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BY . 




M.A., D.Phil.(Oxon.), RInst.P. 




Originally published in German under the title 
“Die Technik des Aliertums” 

This Translation first published in 1^30 



T he author of the present work, Dr. Albert Neubiirger, was 
occupied for over twenty years in collecting and sifting the 
facts which he considered necessary for an adequate survey 
of the manifold technical activities of the ancients. His lively interest 
in antiquity and his scientific training qualified him admirably for this 
exacting and painstaking task. The welcome with which the book 
was received in its original German edition is a sufficient indication of 
the success which has rewarded his labours. 

The translator has endeavoured to interpret the sense of the German 
original as closely as possible without sacrificing freedom of expression. 
Many of the technical terms that occur have not yet found their way 
into German-English dictionaries, and so the help of colleagues has 
been enlisted, wherever possible, to find the nearest equivalents. It 
is hoped that there will be but few errors in this respect. 

It has not been considered necessary to follow the German edition 
by adding at the end of each section a detailed list of the literature dealing 
with the particular subject under consideration, as most of these refer- 
ences are to German books or periodicals. Those readers who wish to 
pursue the facts to their sources are referred to the German edition, 
which contains a very extensive bibliography. 

The title of the German original is Die Technik des AUertums. In 
view of the wide range of subjects under i;eview -it seemed impossible 
to express this in English otherwise than by T/ie Technical Arts and 
Sciences of the Ancients. Our word ‘ science ’ seems less open to 
objection, as applied to the present volume; than the German word 
' Wissenschaft,' which etymologically signifies 'formed' knowledge 
{gestaltetes Wissen) ; the knowledge of the ancients consisted largely 
of disconnected facts which had not been amalgamated by theory. 
The high standard reached by the ancients in at least some technical 
branches is shown strikingly by the fact that only a short while ago it 
was admitted at a meeting of the Iron and Steel Institute at Birmingham 
that in spite of modern scientific progress the metal of the i6oo-year- 
'?)ld pillar at Delhi (Kutub) was still superior to anything we could produce 
to-day; it was freer from inclusions even than Swedish charcoal iron. 
The recent discovery of elastic glass by two Viennese professors was 
regarded as a triumph of research, yet a similar substance seems to have 
been known many centuries ago. But although isolated facts of this 
kind come to the notice of the scientist or layman from time to time, 
few people realize the immense field that has been explored by the 


ancients. Books dealing with special subjects have appeared at inter- | 

vals, for example Manufacturing Arts in Ancient Times (with special 
reference to Bible History) by James Napier (Paisley, 1879), but no . - 
complete treatise has appeared. It is therefore felt that the present 
volume will supply a much-felt want and will also be of use to those 
who are no longer compelled or have no longer the opportunity to study i ‘ 

the ancient classical languages as a compulsory subject. It will be a i 

positive gain if the achievements recorded in these pages wiU lead to a j 

true appreciation of the genius of the ancients which no training in the ! 

elements of Latin and Greek seems to have been able to inculcate. | 

The work of Vitruvius shows what an amount of varied knowledge, j 

ingeniously applied, was at the command of students of the mechanical j 

artsin his day (the beginning of the Christian era). His style of writing i 

is often obscure and has caused translators and commentators great i 

difficulty. His ten books on architecture {De Architectura Libri Decern) \ 

deal with many subjects and are dedicated to the Emperor Augustus, j 

whose sister Octavia procured for him a pension in his old age. These | 

books were lost for a long time, but came to light again at St. Gall in 
the fifteenth century. During the time of the revival of classical learning 
Vitruvius' treatise was regarded as the most valuable work of reference 
for architects ; through Michael Angelo and others his ideas ultimately 'f 

exerted an influence on the architecture of most European countries. 

A great drawback to forming a true estimate of the actual knowledge 
acquired by the ancients is that in all probability the most important 
of the technical writers of antiquity have not come down to us at all. r 

Ernst Mach (in the introduction to his Mechanik) quotes a passage from , 

Vitruvius (v, 3, 6) in which he indicates in rough outline and by analogy 
a wave-theory of sound. This leads Mach to suggest that these remarks 4 

of Vitruvius are rather those of a popular writer on a subject which 
has perhaps been more carefully expounded in works now no longer J 

in existence, and he points out that if the popular writings of the present . 

day were the only source of information of our activities to generations ,1 

a thousand years hence, our state of knowledge would present an aspect 1 

no less strange and misleading. Other writers of less technical ability 
than Vitruvius have given far more inaccurate and uncritical reports 
of discoveries. The chief and most notorious offender in this respect 
is Pliny, who, moreover, was not above pirating the writings of others. 

There are actually passages in Pliny that tally almost word for word 
with Vitruvius, but nowhere is an acknowledgment of the source to be ' I 

found. Fanciful reports of discoveries in those days are, as Mach com- 
ments, no worse than the picturesque tales of Newton’s apple or Watts’ 

■..'■kettle. ■ . 

Up till recently there was a popular delusion that the Greeks, in 
particular, had neglected experiment entirely. Evidence to the contrary ' 

is given by Pythagoras’ use of the sonometer with its movable bridge 
for detecting the ratio of the lengths of similar vibrating strings when 
in harmony ; also by Ptolemy’s systematic experiments on the refraction 
^ of light and Aristotle’s observations bearing on the explanation of the 


rainbow. The real lack in ancient technical knowledge, apart from 
astronomy, appears to have been the absence of mathematical treat- 
ment. Calculation alone could lead to systematic development and 
could weave the isolated facts into the fabric of a science. Indeed, 
recent advances in physics seem to be bringing us back from the opposite 
direction, as it were, to a form of the ancient theory, due chiefly to 
Pythagoras, that number is the essence of reality. The German physicist, 
Planck, defines real quantities as only those which are measurable ; this 
same definition is at the basis of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The most 
recent theory of the atom (founded on Schrodinger’s wave-mechanics) 
seems to push this abstraction even a stage further. 

Unless otherwise stated the translations of the passages quoted from 
Vitruvius are from the English edition by Morgan (Harvard University 
Press, 1914). I am indebted to Professor F. S. Granger, Vice-Principal 
of University College, Nottingham, for many useful suggestions. A 
new translation of Vitruvius’ treatise on architecture is being prepared 
by Professor Granger for the Loeb Classical Library, to other volumes 
of which frequent acknowledgments are made in the present book. 

I also wish to express my thanks to one of my colleagues, Dr. W. 
Schweizer, for assisting me in finding the equivalents of many technical 
terms and for collaborating in the translation of the second and third 
quarters of this book. 


July, 1929. 

University College, 



A lthough the study of antiquity has been pursued with great 
intensity and devotion since the time of the Renaissance and 
the great Humanists, one of its most important branches, the 
technical arts and sciences, has received rather scant attention. It is 
only fairly recently that the beginnings of this field of human activity 
have been studied with increasing care. This has caused a world of 
wonders in the truest sense of the word to be revealed to us and has 
given us deep glimpses of the advanced knowledge and extraordinary 
technique of bygone peoples. 

The reason for this long delay in investigating and appreciating 
their achievements in this direction was due to diverse circumstances. 
When the great Humanists of the fifteenth century directed the attention 
of people anew to antiquity, and in particular to that epoch of time 
which is nowadays briefly called ' classical antiquity it was first of all 
the beauty of language and the beauty of works of art which gripped 
the imagination. The glimpses of technical ability which presented 
themselves in passing exerted no attraction. The ‘ technical age ’ had 
not yet dawned, the mental sciences alone held sway. But even 
at that time it was the great technical inventors of the Renaissance 
Period who first became aware of the remarkable technical accomplish- 
ments olthe ancients and who eagerly studied them and sought to apply 
them to their own purposes. In particular, architects found many 
suggestions in the books of Vitruvius. Werner ^ has tried to prove 
that the technical science of Leonardo da Vinci, the greatest inventor 
of the Renaissance, was founded on an exhaustive study of the works 
of learned Arabian and other ancient writers. 

But there was another circumstance that contributed to the delay 
in making ancient technical science generally accessible. Those who 
were occupied with this task were often insufficiently versed in languages 
or had no opportunity of penetrating deeply into the philological side 
of ancient technical expressions. The philologists, on the other hand, 
who possessed this equipment, had no adequate technical training for 
treating this great field of knowledge competently. And so the meanings 
of many technical expressions (for example ‘ aes,’ ‘ nitrum,' ‘ byssos ') 
have only recently been made fully clear. There are, of course, excep- 
tions among these two groups of researchers ; we need refer only to 
scientists like Diergart, and to philologists like Blumner and Reber, but 

^ Werner, Zur Physik da Vincis. Berlin. 

■ .ix"--'. 


their meritorious labours were far from sufficient to cover the whole 
field thoroughly. 

Only in the last few years, owing to the combined efforts of many scholars 
and to the fact that scientists had at last acquired a taste for historical 
research in their subjects, has it become possible to gain a comprehensive 
and detailed survey of what had been achieved by the ancients in this 
field. But the works of these writers are scattered far and wide through 
journals and have been published at different times. Whereas one 
investigator, for example Le Chateher, has chiefly occupied himself 
with ancient ceramic art, another, Kassner, has dealt with ancient inks, 
whereas a third, Berger, has specialized in ancient painting in wax, and 
so forth. This circumstance alone made it appear desirable to gather 
together these scattered facts so that as wide a perspective as possible 
would be obtained of the whole range of ancient technical knowledge. 

The author hopes that he may have been successful in building up 
out of his own reading and experience a work which will serve as a 
foundation for further investigations on the part of scholars and scientists. 
At the same time he trusts that it will inspire in the general reader a 
thirst for further knowledge of these great achievements, characterized 
by such beauty in their details. ... 

In general we take as the beginning of antiquity a time not definitely 
specified, which differs for different peoples and denotes roughly the 
time at which these peoples appear in history up to about the last part 
of the fifth century a.d., when the downfall of the Western Roman Empire 
was being accompanied by great changes of religion and civilization ; 
this period was characterized chiefly by the founding of Christian States 
and the stormy events due to the migration of races. This rough defini- 
tion of antiquity applies equally well to the age of technical discovery 
among the ancients. ... 

The author expresses his warm thanks to all those who either as 
individuals, whether scientists or archaeologists, or as committees of 
museums, or as owners of private collections lent their kind assistance 
during the long years when the present work was being prepared. 




BOOKS USED xxvi'i 




Gold , ... 8 

Silver . ii 

Copper 13 

Tin . 14 

Bronze . . . . 13 

Zinc 18 

Lead . . . . . . . . . . . .18 

Iron 20 

Other Metals . . . 27 

METAL-WORKING . . . . . . . . . . 29 

Metal Leaf and Embossing . . . . . . . . 29 

Wires . . . . . . . . . . . * 37 

Stamping . . . . . . . . . . ■ 39 

Coining, Chasing and Engraving . . . . . . . 40 

Riveting, Soldering, Welding, Cementing . . , . . 45 

Forging Metals. The Smithy . 47 

Casting IN Metal . . . . . . . . . . 54 

Chemical Treatment and Colouring of Metals . . . . 61 

Special Methods of Working Metals 64 


• Procuring Wood. Felling Trees . , . , . . 98 

The Types of Wood ......... 70 

Carpenters’ Tools and Carpentry 71 


Tanning . . . 77 

The Uses of Leather , , 79 



AGRICULTURE . . . • ■ • . . • ■ • S2 

Agricultural Implements . . • • • ■ ■ .82 

The Method of Ploughing . . • • • ■ ■ -85 

The Treatment of Corn . . • ■ • • ■ • 


The Bakery , . . . • • ■ • • • • 8g 

Milling Corn ... . . • • ■ • • Sg 

Baking Bread . . . ■ • ■ • • • • 95 

Brewing Beer . . ... . ■ • - • 100 

The Preparation of Wine (Viticulture) . . . . .105 

The Extraction of Oils and Fats ... . . .110 

The Uses of Oils . . . . . • • ■ ■ • 


Methods of Preserving . . . . , . . 124 

Mummies . . .... . . ... ■ 125 

CERAMIC ARTS . . . . . . . . . . 130 

The Development of Ceramic Art . . . . . . 130 

Ceramic Art among the Individual Peoples of Antiquity . . 133 

The Babylonians and Assyrians — The Egyptians — The Greeks — ^The 
Romans — ^The Teutons. 

GLASS ■ c . .■ ; ■ . .■ ■ . 152 

The Origin of Glass . . . . . . . . . 152 

Egyptian Glass Manufacture . ... . . . 153 

Phoenicians . . . . . . ..... 157 

Greeks . . . ... . . . . . 157 

The Glass-work of the Romans . ... . . 158 

Artificial Stones . . . . . . . . . . 164 


General Remarks . . . . . . . . 165 

Silk : . u ' . ■ . . . . ■ . . . . . 165 

Other Raw Materials and their Extraction . . . .167 

Spinning •. - . . . . .. i6g 

Working up of the Thread . . . : . , . . . 

The Cleaning of Textiles . . . . . . .175 

The Dyeing of Textiles . . . . . . . .176 

Milling and Making Cloth 177 

Bleaching and Pressing , . . . . . .179 

Treatment of the Cloths ; . . . . . . . 180 

Felts, Rope-Making, Wicker-work 182 


. _xiJiR Organic Dyes 

Inorganic Dyes and Painters’ Colours 


Painting among the Egyptians and Babylonians 
Painting among the Greeks and Romans 
Painting on Tablets . . . 

Binding Substances 

The Encaustic Process 













The Simple Machines 202 

The Lever and its Applications . . , . . . , 203 

The Inclined Plane . 207 

The Pulley and the Wedge . . . . . . . 208 

Overcoming Friction (Sledge-Runners, Wheels and Vehicles) . 210 

Toothed Wheels and their Uses 215 

Capstan and Tread-Wheel .217 

Elasticity and its Applications : the Bow, the Crossbow and 
Ballistic Machines , . . . . . . . . 218 

Hydraulics . . . . . . . . ... 225 

The Pressure of Water : the Water-Wheel .... 229 

Exploiting Gas-Pressure 229 


Fire-appliances 233 

Lighting . , . 234 

The oldest Methods of Lighting — Lamps and Candles. 

Street-lighting . . . . . ... . . 244 

Lighthouses . . . . 245 

Heating .... . . . . . . . 247 

Heating Materials — Fireplaces : Varieties of Hearth — Braziers 
and their Derived FormS' — Stoves. 

Heating Large Masses of Water. . . . . . . 257 

The Problem of Central Heating . . . . . . 258 

Heating by Hypocausts . . . . . . . . 259 

Heating by Pipes . . . . . ... . . 264 

T©WN-PLANNING . . . . . 267 

Laying OUT Towns . . , . . . . . . 267 

Town-Planning among THE Romans . • . . • . 273 

FORTIFICATIONS . . . . . • • • • • 281 

The Ramparts .... . . . • • • 281 

Walls, Towers and Ditches. . . . . • • . 284 


The Art of Fortification among the Greeks 
Gateways . . 

Roman Fortifications . 


The Oriental House 
The Egyptian House 
The Greek House . 

The Roman House 
Doors . . . 

Locks and Keys . 

The Pyramids 
Baths . 


Original Methods 
Timber Work 
Frame Buildings 
Stone Buildings 
Brickwork , 

The Construction of Vaults 
Building Implements 
Wood . . 

Stone . . 

Bricks, Artificial Stone and Artificial Materials 
Mortars and Cements . 


Water-Supply in the East 
Water-Supply among the Egyptians 
Water-Supply among the Greeks 
.Water-Supply among the Romans 

Drainage Systems in the Near East 
Drains and Sewers among the Greeks 
Roman Drainage Systems 







































IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE . . ... . . . 447 

^ ROADS AND BRIDGES . . . . ... . . 450 

General Remarks . . . . . . . . . 450 

Roads of the East . . . .... . . 450 

^ Greek Roads. . • ■ • . . . . . . . 451 

Roman Roads ... . . . . . ... 452 

i ' Tunnels and Cuttings . . . .... . . 461 

I Bridges . .. . . . . . ■ . . . 462 

I . SHIPS AND SHIP-BUILDING . . . . .... 473 

I' The Oldest Forms of Ships : Ships of the East . . . 473 

The Ships of the Egyptians . . 476 

Greek and Roman Ships : The ‘ Mediterranean ' Ship . . . 481 

The Construction and Equipment of Ships among the Greeks and 

Romans . . . . 483 

The ‘ Trireme ’ Problem 495 

Size and Speed of Ancient Ships . . . . . . 497 




INDEX OF SUBJECTS . . ... , . . . 510 



I, 2 Method of Working in Ancient Mines 
3, 4 Spoon-shaped Miners’ Lamps of Lead 
5-7 Miners’ Earthenware Lamps , 

8 Gold-washing in Egypt 

g-13 Representations of old Smelting Furnaces 

14 Relief Decorations in Lead on a Roman Coffin 

15 Prehistoric Blast-Furnace (Belgium) 

16 Prehistoric Pit Furnace . , . 

17 An Ancient Bloomery . . . 

18 Bloomery Pot from Lower Lusatia . 

19 Roman Bloomeries . . , . 

20 Prehistoric Iron Smelting Works 

21 A Corsican Bloomery. . . 

22 A Catalan Bloomery . 

23 A Bloomery in Kordofan . . 

24 A Supposed Bloomery in Ancient Egypt 

25 Crude Bloom and Worked ‘Bloom 

26 Re-forged Bloom . . 

27 An Isolated Ancient Blast-furnace , 

28 The Workshop of a Goldsmith . 

29 Representation of a Gold-beater 

30 Melting Metal by means of a Blowpipe 

31 Bronze Statue of Hercules 

32 Roman Gold-beater . . . 

33, 34, Granite Form used to emboss Jewellery 

35 Coppersmith Embossing a Vessel 

36 Attic Phiale showing the Process of Embossing on 

37 Embossing Large Vessels . . 

38 The Sword of Tiberius . 

39 Ancient Egyptian Embossing Mould . 

40 Egyptian Embossing in Gold . 

41 Specimens of Roman Embossing in Gold 

42 Embossed Diadem from Mycenae 

43 An Embossed Gold Vase from Mycenae 

44 Gold Rosettes . . ... 

45 Itmbossed Metal Vessels 

46 Examples of Roman Goldsmith’s Work 

47 ■ Punch for Ornamentations in Sheet-metal 
4^ Weighing Money Rings 

49 Another Egyptian Balance 

50 Greek Dies for Coins 

51 Ancient Coins bearing Coining Traces 

52 Chasing a Helmet .... 

53, 54 Roman Blowpipe and Soldering Iron 

55 Egyptian Bellows , . . . 

56 Tools of the Roman Smith 

57 Greek Smithy depicted on an Attic Vase 

b xvii 

































Flos. ^ I’ACrl; 

58 Smiths in Action in the Workshop of 

59 A Cutler . . . • 

60 A Cutler’s Shop . . . 

61 A Common Smith . . 

62 Roman Smiths . . . 

63 Roman Regimental Smith . 

64 Cupids at Work in the Smithy 

65 A Grindstone 

66 Ancient Roman Forged Metal 

67 Ancient Roman Horseshoe . 

68 Mould and Counterpart for Casting a Ri 

69 Casting a Temple Door in Ancient Egypt 

70 Egyptian Hand-mirror of Bronze 

71 Solid Egyptian Cast of Precious Metal 

72 Egyptian Hollow Cast 

73 Prehistoric Stone Moulds . 

74 Egyptian Bronzes 
75, 76 Greek Casting Workshop 

77 Statue of ‘ Hera ’ or ‘ The Spinner ’ 

78 The Wolf with Romulus and Remus 
79-81 Specimens of Hollow Casting 
82 Greek Folding Mirror 
83, 84 A Roman Coiner's Casting Moulds 
85, 86 A Roman Coiner’s Mould 
87 Roman Niello 
88-g-p-,JRoMAN Filigree 
92 Egyptian Enamelling . 

■93 Roman Enamel Work . 

94 Roman Cei.lular Enamel 

95 Egyptian Inlaid Work 

96 Cupids as Goldsmiths . 

97 Assyrian Wood-cutters 

98 Roman Double Axe . . 

99 Covering of a Roman Axe . 

100, loi Roman Hatchet-knife . 

102 Part of the Cover of a Roman Axe 

103 Wood-working in Egypt . • 

104 Egyptian Snw , 

1 05-1 07 Mallet- Chisel, and Drill 
iq8 Egyptian Woodwork . 

■ 109 Working at- a Statue of Hermes 

H0-113 Roman ^ws . 

114 Various Types of Roman Drills 

1 15 Roman Plane .... 

1 16 Cupids as Carpenters . 

117-122 Carpentry 

123 Roman Woodwork . . 

124 Ancient Greek Woodwork from Mycenaf. 

125 Preparation cf Leather in Egypt 
126-128 Leather Work in Egypt 
X29, 130 Cutting Soles in a Workshop 

1 31 Pummelling a Leather Sole 

132 A Greek Shoei^aker’s Workshop 
133, 134 Roman Soles, Sandals, etc. 

135 Roman S and als^ Fastened .to the Feet 

136 Ancient Roman; Decorative Leather . 

137 Bushman Digging Stick . . 

138 The Mattock or Hoe, and the Hoe-plough 








































139 The Iron Blade of a Coptic Hoe . . . 

140 Greek Hoe-plough . / . . . 

141 Kaffirs witIi Composite Ploughs and Rakes 

142 Egyptian Hoe . • ... 

143 Roman Agricultural Implements . . . . . 

144, 145 Millstones of Trachyte . . 

146 Egyptian Grinding-stone . 

147 A Servant grinding Corn . ... . . 

148 Rubbing Dish of Clay . . . . . 

149, 150 Mortar of Ba.salt and Pestle of Hard Limestone 

151 Greek Women pounding Grain in a Mortar 

152 Roman Hand-mill . . . . . 

153 Roman Mill. . . . . . 

154 Iron Pivot and Disc in Roman Mills. .... 

155 Roman Mill worked by an Ass . . . . 

156 Bakers' Mills at Pompeii ... 

157 Roman Water Mill ... 

158 Egyptian Granary with a B.\kery in Front 

159 A Bakery in Egypt . . . . . . 

160 A Kneading-machine . . . . ... 

161-163 Egyptian Loaves 

164 Baker in Tanagra (5tli Century b.c.) ..... 

165 Oven in Pompeii ......... 

166 Section of an Oven at Pompeii ...... 

167 Pictorial Representation of Beer-brewing 

168, 169 Egyptian Brewery . . . . . . . 

170 Preparation of Wine in Egypt ...... 

171 Trojan Wine Depository . . . . . . . 

172 Tran.sporting Wine in Casks ...... 

173 Beating Down the Olives from the Trees 

174 Vertical Mill or Edge-rollers ...... 

175 Oil Press with its Press-beam ...... 

176 A See-saw Press . , . . , . 

177 Cupids Extracting Oil ....... 

178 Wedge-press . . . ... . . 

179 Oil-press W’orks in Stabiae ...... 

180 The ‘ Apoxyomenos ’ . . ... 

181 Egyptian Containers of Cosmetics ..... 

182 A Spoon for Cosmetics or Ointments .... 

183 Containers for Perfumers, Cosmetics, etc. 

184 Egyptian Toilet Case made of Reeds .... 
185, 186 Egyptian Instruments for making Mummies 

187, 188 Canopic Vase, FOR Entrails , . . 

189 Forearm of a Female Mummy ...... 

190 A Mummy with Bandages Removed ..... 

191 The Covering of a Mummy 

192 Use of the Potter’s Wheel . . . . . 

193 A Tomb Consisting of Fourteen Bricks .... 

194 Roman Tiles with Stamps ....... 

19.5, Modelling Form ........ 

196 Making Bricks among the Egyptians 

197 Model of an Egyptian Brick-works ..... 

198 Making Earthenware Vessels in Egypt .... 

199, 200 So-called ‘ Glazed Faience ’ or ' Egyptian Porcelain ’ 
201, 202 ‘Egyptian Faience’ 

203 Ancient Chinese Furnace ....... 

204 Greek Potter’s Wheel . . 

205 - A Greek Vase . . . 





















1 08 










1 27-8 



13 1 














Tan AGRA Figure . . . . 



Barbotine Vase . . . . • 



Roman Potters’ Furnaces . 



210 Roman Potter’s Furnace in Heddernheim 


2 II 

Model of a Roman Pottery . . 



Romano-Germanic Earthenware . 



Glass Stick WITH the Name Amenemhat III 



Glass from Factory of Tel-el-Amarna 



Coloured Glass Sticks and Vessels . . 



Egyptian Hand-mirror, with a Glass Inset 



Glass Rosettes from the Case of a Mummy 



Statue of a Man, made of Limestone 

I 5 f> 


Roman Glass-blowing ..... 



Roman Flasks in Glass .... 



Roman Diatreta Vessels .... 



Roman Pane of Glass . . 



Millefiori Dish {Ro!man) . 



Egyptian Distaff for Spinning . 



Egyptian Spindle with an Attached Whorl 



Roman Spindle with Whorl . 



Spinning on the Thigh . 

17 1 


ovoQ (spindle) 

1 71 


Penelope’s Loom . ... 



Egyptian Loom . . . 



Ancient Greci.^n Loom . . 



Weaver’s Shuttle made of Bone 



Egyptian Weaver’s Batten and Two Slays of 




Grate-shaped Slay ..... 



Embroidering by Means of Embroidering Frame 



The Milling of Cloth 



Cleaning of the Thistles for Dressing the Cloth . 



Dressing the Cloth 



Plan of the Fullonica in Pompeii 



A Cloth Press . . . . . . 



Greek Garments ...... 



244 Roman Garments ..... 



Egyptian Wickerwork of Palm Bast . 



Egyptian Child’s Shoe .... 



Woven Cane Chair (relief) 



Egyptian Ropemaker ..... 



Purple Mussels ...... 



The Instruments of a Purple Dyer . 



Egyptian Painter’s Palette 



Greek Painter ...... 



Painting on Canvas . . . . . 



255 Tools and Instruments used for Encaustic Painting 



Shadoof IN Babylon , . . . . 



Shadoof for raising Water from the Nile 






A Contrivance for drawing Water , . 



Roman Balance or Steelyard . . . 



Steelyard. Another Form. . . . 

20 ’^ 


Steel Jack: in Use . . . . . 



A Balance Consisting of a Lever with Equal 




Automatic Device for supplying Holy Water 



The Construction of Archimedes' Screw . 



267 'Endless Screws’ , . . . 



-270 Gears and Pulleys . . . . 




271 Assyrians using Sledge-runners for Transport 

272 Assyrians transporting a Gigantic Monument on Runners 

* 273,274 Egyptians transporting Monuments on Runners 

275 A Large Vessel carried on Sledge-runners . 

276 Assyrian Vehicle with Wheels of Eight Spokes 

277 Egyptain War Chariot ... . . . 

278 Egyptians Building Vehicles . . . . ... 

279 Greek Vase, showing A Chariot . . . . . . 

280 Greek Bronze Chariot . ... 

281 Apparatus for measuring Distances (Hodomister) 

282 Arm of a Puppet being moved by a Toothed Wheel 

283 Toothed Wheels and Winches , . . . 

284 Gear Propelled by a Camel for drawing Water from the Nilic 

285 Capstan . 

286 Tread-wheel connected with a Bucket-system . . . 

287 Ordinary Wooden Bow from Ancient Greece . . . 

288 Egyptian Bows from Tombs in Thebes 

289 Greek Composite Bow of the Recoiling Type . . . 

290 Greek Vase showing a Man BENDING A Bow 

291, 292 ‘ Onager ’ . . 

293 Two-armed Ballista . . . . 

294 The Pneumatic Spanner OF Ktesibios .... 

295 A Sucker in Use. . . .... 

296,297 Ktesibios’ Water-clock . .... . 

298 Use of the Under-shot Water-wheel 

299 Fire-pump . . . . . 

300 The Water-organ of Ktesibios . . .... 

301 Heron’s Aeoiapile . . . . .... 

302 Bow AND Sinew for lighting a Fire . . . . . 

303 Vase with Torch-bearer . . . . . 

304 Torch-holder from Tiryns . . . . . . . 

305 Stone Lamps of the Minoan Period of Crete . . . 

306 Lamp-mould . . ..... . . 

307 Closed Clay Lamps (Roman) . . . . . 

308 Bronze Lamp with Open Bowl and Funnel-shaped Spout . 

309 Closed Roman Safety Lamps 

310, 31 1 Annular Roman Lamp . ... . . . 

312 Greek Lamp on a Stand . . . . . . . 

313 Bronze Stool serving as a Lamp-stand . . . . 

314 Bronze Lamp-stands . . ... . . . 

315,316 Greek Lamp-stands and Ch.andelier . . .. 

317 The Lamp of Philon of Byz.antium . . . . . 

318 The Lamp of Heron of Alexandria . . . . . 

319 Big Greek Bronze C.andlestick . . . ... 

320 Upper Part of a Greek Candlestick . . . . 

321 Etruscan Candelabrum with Horizontal Spikes 

322 Boy with Torch. Bronze Candel.\brum . 

323 Lantern from Herculaneum . . . . . 

324, 325 The Lighthouse of Alexandria ..... 
326. Roman Lighthouse .at Corunna ...... 

327-333 Oldest Forms of the Hearths 

334, 335 Bronze Ch.afing Dishes ...... 

336 A Compound Brazier ........ 

337 Vessel for Prep.aring Caldum 

338 Pompeian Portable Stove . . 

339 Ancient Greek Portable Stove ...... 

340 Kettle with Cylindrical Grate Bars .... 

341 Germanic Stove with Grate 

. 244 

. 246-7 
. 247 


• 253 

• 254 

■ 254 

• 255 

• 255 

. 256 



342 Boiler in Ladies’ Bath in the Stabian Thermae at Pompeii 

343 Hypocaust in the Roman Theatre in Fiesole . 

344 Hypocausts at Treves . . . . . 

345 Praefurnium of an Ancient Roman Heating Apparatus . 

346 Construction of Hypocausts and Channelled Walls . 

347 Hypocaust in the ‘ Civilian ’ Settlement . . . . 

348 Praefurnium of the Hypocaust . . . . . . . 

349 Plan of the Hypocaust near Saalburg 

350 Heating by Pipes . . . ■ . ... 

351.352 System of Heating by Pipes . , . . .. . . 

353 System of Hypocausts and Heating-pipes . . . . . . 

354 Plan of Babylon . . ... . . . 

355 Plan of Piraeus , . . . . . . . 

356 Part of the Plan of Priene . . . . . . . 

357 Plan of Alexandria ......... 

358 Plan of Timgad . . . . . . . . 

359 Plan of the Roman Settlement at Treves . . . . 

360 Model of Roman Cologne . . . . ... 

361 Wendish Earthwork ......... 

362, 363 Bank-fence on the Altkonig , . . . 

364 Vitrified Wall at Plauen in Voigtland . . .... 

365 Plan of an Ancient .Babylonian Fortress 

366-368 The Walls of Troy , . . . . . ' . 

369 The Brick Wall of Troy w.hich rests on Clay Cakes 

370 Gateway with Projecting Flanking Towers . . . . 

371 Fortific.vtion of the Citadel at Tiryns . . . . . 

372 Part of the Town Wall of Athens . . . 

373 Another Sp:ction of Themistocles' Wall . . . . . 

374 The Lion Gate of Mycenae . . . . , 

375 Gate at Messene . . . . ... 

376 Gate at Missolonghi . . . . . . . . , . 

377 Gate of Thorikos . . 

378 Gate of Phigalia . . . . . 

379 Gate at Samos . . 

380 The Fortified Camp on the Bay of Verudella . . . . 

381, 382 Town Walls of Pompeii . . . . . 

383, 384 The Breastworks of the Walls of Pompeii 
385, 386 Tower in the City Wall of Pompeii . . . . . 

387-389 The Three Stories of the Tower on the Wall of Pompeii 
390,391 Porta Nigra at Treves . . . . . . 

392 Roman Watch-tower on the Limes . . . . . . 

393 Plan OF the Amphitheatre of Treves . . . . 

394 Porta Herculanea at Pompeii . . . . . , . 

395. 396 Plans of Saalburg Camp . . . . . . . 

397 Gateway of Saalburg Camp, . . . . . . . 

398, 399 Porta Decuman a of Saalburg Camp . . . . . 

400 Parallel Triangular Ditch with Wall ... 

401 The Roman Limes in Germania 

402 Ornamental Gate at Palmyra ....... 

403 The Great Colonnade at Palmyra 

404 Plan of Roman Ornamental Public Place. . . . . 

405 Roman Ornamental Street . . 

406 Pompeian Street ......... 

,407 Street blocked to Traffic ....... 

408 Street in Pompeii . . ... 

409 Mended Pavement in Pompeii .... 

410 Pavement with Stepping-stones for Pedestrians 

41 1, 412 Streets in Pompeii ... , . . . : 






















































413 Sewer in the Forum at Pompeii . . ... . 312 

414 System of Gutters at Pompeii . . . . . . .312 

415 Outlets for the Rain-water in a Street at Pompeii . . 312 

416 Ancient Greek Houses AT Priene . . . . . 317-18 

417 Ancient Greek Dwelling in Priene , . . , . - 318 

418 So-called 'House of Hyrcanus ’ . . . . . . 318 

419 Oldest Known Form of Roman House . . . . , 320 

42a Roman House with Peristyle Court . . , , . . 321 

421 Mural Painting in Mosaic Style ...... 322 

422-424 Roman Floors . . . . . . . . . 323 

425-427 The House of the Vettii at Pompeii . . •324-5 

428-430 Plans of Pompeian House . . . . . . . 326 

431 Ground Plan of a Pompeian House ...... 327 

432, 433 Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli . . . . . . .328-9 

434. 435 The ‘ Promenade-w’’All ' in Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli 329-30 

436 Ruins of a House . . . . , . . . 330 

437 House WITH Tuscan Atrium . . . . . . . 331 

438,439 Tuscan Atrium . ... . . . . . 332 

440 Tiled Roof of the Casa ui Sirico in Pompeii . . . . 332 

441 Tetrastylum of a Small Pompeian House . . . . . 333 

443 Pompeian House with Atrium Displuvi.atum . . . . . 333 

443 Pompeian House with a Cellar . . . . . . . 333 

444 Plan of a Shop . . . . ... . . . 334 

445 Front View of a Shop in Pompeii . . . . . ;. 334 

446 Entrance of a Roman Shop . . . . . . . 33.f 

447 Shutter OF A Shop , . . . . . . . . 335 

448 ,, ,, ,, H0RIZ0NT.AL Section . . . . • 335 

449-451 Models of Roman Keys . . . . . . ‘ 33 ^ 

452 Homeric Lock . . . . . . , . . . 337 

453 The Unlocking of a Homeric Lock . . . . . . 337 

454 Female Serv.ant with Key . ... . . . . 338 

455 Key FROM Ilium (Troy) . . . . . . . . 338 

456 Roman Key . . . . . . .... 338 

457,458 Roman Trigger-lock . . . . . . . * 339 

459 Roman Keyhole and Key . ... . . ■ . . 339 

460 Roman Padlock . . .... ... .339 

461, 462 Diagrams showing the Astronomic Relations of the IA'ramid 

OF Cheops. . . . . . ... . . 342 

463 Vertical Section through the Pyramid of Cheops . . . 344 

464 Reconstruction of the Sphinx . . , . . . . 347 

465, 466 Origin.-vl Forms of Greek Temples ..... 350 

467 Ground-plan of the Origin.\l Greek Temple .... 350 

468, 469' Templum in Antis . . . . . • . . . 350 

470, 471 Plans OF the Temples . . . . . . 350 

472 Peripteral Temple 351 

473 .Plan of the Temple of Apollo at Bassae . . . • 35 ^ 

474 Peripteral Temple w'ITh Five Frontal Columns . . 331 

475 Special Form of the Peripteral Temple ..... 352 

476 Dipter.vl Temple -352 

477 Pseudo-Dipteral Temple 352 

478 Ruins of a Pseudo-Dipteral Temple 352 

479 Circular Roman Temple ........ 353 

480 The Theatre of Pergamon ........ 354 

481 The Orchestra of the Theatre seen from the Aiuijturium . 355 

482 Ground-plan of a Greek Theatre , . . . . -357 

483 Plan of an open Roman Theatre 358 

'484 Plan of a Roofed Roman Theatre 359 

4S5 Roman Theatre at Fiesole 359 


486 Reconstruction of a Roman Theatre . ‘ . 

487, 488 The Colosseum in Rome .... 

489, 490 The Amphitheatre at Treves 
491 View of the Amphitheatre of Verona 

Surrounding Wall of the Verona Amphitheatre 
Corridor and Buttress at the Verona Amphitheatre 
Cellars and Machinery of the TniivEs Amphitheatre 
Cellar underneath the Treves Amphitheatre . 

Masonry surrounding the Verona Amphitheatre 
Reconstruction of the Thermae of Diocletian. 

Plan of the Large Thermae at Pompeii . 

Apodyterium of the Stabian Thermae at Pompeii 
The Palaestra of the Stabian Thermae . 

Plan of the ‘ Small Thermae ’ at Pompeii 
502-505 Baths in the ‘ Small Thermae ’ at Pompeii. 

506 Ruins of the Thermae of Titus 

507 Reconstruction of the Thermae of Agrippa 

508-510 Thermae of Caracalla . . . . . 

51 1 Ground-plan of the Thermae of Agrippa . 

512-515 Basilica OF Pompeii . . 

516 Timber-work in the Temple of Thermos in Aetolia 

Greek Gabled Roof . . . . . . 

Eaves, etc., of the Treasury at Gela 
Masonry in Cellar of Building in Saalburg . 

Roman Wall consisting of Brickwork and Ashlar 
Corner of a House made of Hewn Stone . 

Opus Incbrtum . . ... 

' Cast ’ Masonry in the Forum Civile at Pompeii 
524, 525 Opus Rettculatum . . . , . ■ . 

526,^ 527 Opus Spicatum 

528* Masonry consisting of Stone with Binding Courses 
Pseudo-vault at Mycenae . . . . 

Chaldean Pseudo-vault in the Sepulchre at Mugheir 
Vault made of Wedge-shaped Stones 
Vaulted Ceiling in the Imperial Palace at Treves 
Barrel-vault made of Irregular Stones . 

Superposed Roman Arches . 

Chorobates . . . , . . . 

Tools of Roman Masons . . . 

Mason smoothing Plastering on a Wall . 

The Tools of a Mason . . . 

Gigantic Stone which has been transported for Building 
poses . . . . .... 

SH.A.PED Stones in the Quarry of Baalbek 
The Tomb of Theodoric in RxWENna . . . 

Sea of Stone in the Odenwald , . . . 

Granite worked by the Romans in the Odenwald 
544,545 The ‘ Altar-stone ’ 

546 Huge Block of Granite, worked . . . 

547 ‘ Giant Pillar ’ on the Stone Mountains . 

548 Egyptians working in Stone . . . , 

549-55 1 Limekiln in the Val di Gardena. . . 

552 Lowest Water-basin of the Ancient Assyrian Aqueduct 
553-566 Plan and Details of Solomon's Water-system 
567-569 Jerusalem’s Water-supply .... 

570 The Siloah Tunnel and the ' Meeting Point ’ . 

571 Egyptian S.\kia with a Windlass 

572 The Aqueduct of Samos . . , . . 


































361- 2 

362- 3 


364 _ 












































• 417 

. 418 

. 421 



573-576 The Aqueduct of Pergamon 
577 Greek Well 
57S Wells BEHIND Houses . 

579 Well with Woodwork and Roof 

580 Well with Wall-frame and Roof 

581 Distribution of Water in a Modern Town 

582 Distribution of Water in an Ancient Town . 

583 Remains of Ancient Roman Aqueducts . . 

584 Section through a Part of Aqua Marcia ; 

585 Tunnel, Part of Water-system of Treves 

586 Interior View of the Piscina Mirabilis at Baiae 
587, 588 Piscina at Castel Gandolfo . 

589 Piscina at Castel Gandolfo . 

590 Lead Water Pipes . . . 

591. 592 Fountain with Water-tower in Pompeii 

593 Fountain in the Interior of a House in Pompeii 

594 System of Lead Pipes that may be closed by Means of a Tap 

595 Section of a Fountain in Pompeii , . 

596 Water-tap FROM THE Palace OF Tiberius . . . 

597, 598 Drains under Palaces of Nimrod 
599 Lead Plug for closing Rain-water Drain 

Embedded Copper Pipe for Running off Rain-water 
Rain-pipe Groove in King Sahura's Mortuary Temple 
Public Place of Retirement with Water-flushing . 

Shower-bath, according to a Greek Vase Painting . 

604-607 Bath in the Royal Castle at Tiryns . 

608 Combined Foot and Hip-bath from Mycenae 
Foot-bath from Priene . . . 

Lavatory and Foot-baths in Priene Gymnasium 
Plan of the Palaestra at Olympia . , 

View of a Part of the Cloaca Maxima . . 

The Exit of the Cloaca Maxima into the Tiber 
Roman Log-road . . . , ... 

Roman Road supported on Stakes, at Rodelheim 

Section of a Roman High-road 

617, 618 Section through Roman Roads at .Heddeunheim 
619 Section through the Bedding of an Ancient Roman Road 
620, 621 Roman Road at Heddernheim 
622, 623 Part of the Via Appia 

624 SoAK-AWAY Channel below a Roman Road at Heddernheii 
625-627 Roman Mile-posts and Stones 

628 Reconstructed Roman Milestones 

629 Trestle-bridge SET up on Land . . . . . . . 465 

630 Caesar's Rhine Bridge 465 

631 Mesopotamian Arched Bridge . . . . ... 466 

632, 633 Ancient Roman Bridges . . . . . . . 467 

634 Pons Aelius (Present-day Ponte Sant’ Angelo in Rome) , . 468 

635 The Foundations of the Ponte Sant’ Angelo .... 469 

636 The Isola Tiberina and the Two Bridges, Pons Ce.stius and Pons 

, Fabricius -470 

637 Model of the Roman Bridge at Mainz , . . . ' . 470 

638 Piling-grating with Ballasting and Parts of Masonry , . 470 

639 Roman Medal 471 ; 

640, 641 The Bridge at TRi:vES . , . . . • . . 471-2 

642 Assyrian Kelek and a Man on a Float 473 

643 Making Keleks from * Burdjuks ’ 474 

644 Circular Boat 474 

645 Assyrian Warship 475 















































646 T3U1 LDING A Ship in Egypt . . . . 

647 Types OF Egyptian Ships . , . . . . 

648-651 Types of Egyptian Ships . . 

652 Ring-rowlocks on Egyptian Ships .... 
C53. Greek and Roman Ships ..... 

655 Greek Trireme . . . . . . . . 

656 The After Part of a Roman Sailing-Vessel 

657 Battering Ram of a Roman War-ship . . . 

658 Rowing-ship on a River . . ... 

659 Two-masted Vessel . . . . . . 

660 A Small Roman Ship . . . . 

661 Roman Sailing-Vessel 

662 Greek Sailing-Vessel ... 

663 Primitive Wooden Anchor Weighted by a Stone 

664-666 Forms of Greek Anchors . , 

667 Penteres . . . . . . . . . 

668 Trireme with Oars raised out of the Water . 

669 Landmark denoting a Landing-place . 

670 Plan of the Harbour of Methone (Modon) . . 

671 The Ancient Greek Mole of Methone . 

672, 673 The Head of the Greek Mole of Methone 

674 Remains of the Ancient Greek Fort-wall of Methone 

675 Plan of Trajan’s Harbour at Ostia . 

676 The Nike of Samothrace . 




















Baumeister : Denkmaler des klassischen Altertums zum Erlmtenmg des Jiebens 
der Gnechen und Romer in Religion. Kunst imd Sitte. Munich and 
Leipzig, 1885-1888. 

BlOmner : Technologie und Terminologie der Gewerbe mid Kiinste bei Griechen 
und Romern. Berlin and Leipzig, 1912. 

CuRTius : Griechische Geschichte. Berlin. 1857-1861. 

Davemberg and Saglio : Diciionnaire des antiquitees Grecques et Romaines. 
Paris, 1877-1917. 

Forrer: Reallexikon der prdhistorischen, klassischen und fruhchristlichen 
Altertiimer. Berlin and Stuttgart, 1908. 

Friedlander : Darstellungen aus dar Sittengeschichte Roms. Leipzig, 1888- 

Herodotus : Histories. Translation by Lange. Leipzig. 

FIero of Alexandria : Greek and German edition of his works, edited by 
Wilhelm Schmidt. Leipzig, 1899. 

Hoops : Reallexikon der germanischen Altertums kunde. Strassburg. From 
1911 onwards. 

Mommsen: Romische Geschichte. Berlin, 1903. 

Pauly-Wissowa ; Realenzyklopddie der klassischen Altertums-wissenschaften. 
Stuttgart, from 1894 onwards. 

Pliny : Natural History. Translated and commented on by Ph. C. KiUb. 
Stuttgart, 1840. 

Tacitus : Die Germania des Cornelius Tacitus. Translated from the Lcitin 
with an Introduction and explanatory notes by Max Oberbreyer. Leipzig. 

Vitruvius : Des Vitruvius zehn Biichen iiber die Architekhir. Stuttgart, 1865. 


T he present has often been called the age of technical science. 

This statement unintentionally suggests that it has been reserved 
for our times to create the technical sciences and to develop 
them to a high standard, and that they did not exist in the remoter 
past. This idea is entirely erroneous. In reality technical science has 
existed throughout the ages from the very beginnings of the human race. 
That of the present differs from that of the past chiefly in making use 
of certain natural forces, above all steam-power and electricity, to an 
extent never before thought possible, with the result that some branches 
of our civilization have assumed entirely new forms. This is most 
strikingly exemplified in our means of locomotion. 

It is therefore wrong to speak of a particular ‘ Age of Technical 
Science.’ We must rather regard technical science as an expression of 
the human mind, that has its root in the nature of things and has from 
time immemorial been inspired by Man’s very existence. Like all 
expressions of the human spirit, however, technical science, which may 
be defined as the unceasing struggle of man with matter, has its periods 
of ebb and flow. These periods exhibit immense differences. If we 
review them in succession we observe two great flood-tides : the present 
time and antiquity. 

The technical science of antiquity differs from that of the present 
chiefly in having, by methods much simpler than those which would 
now be available, achieved results which are in some ways so remarkable 
that they have not since been surpassed. In making full use of steam 
and electricity and of the other sources of power which have become 
known to us in the course of time our technical science has developed 
more broadly, whereas on the other hand that of the ancients certainly 
penetrated more deeply. The much more limited knowledge of that 
time was exploited to the utmost. Simple means were used for hundreds 
or even thousands of years without in many cases being essentially 
improved, but so ingeniously and efflciently as often to astonish us. 

Compared, however, with the technical science of later periods, and 
in particular of that of the Middle Ages, the technical science of antiquity 
differs widely in several respects. Throughout the Middle Ages and for 
some centuries subsequently, it commonly suffered, stagnation in conse- 
quence of being restricted within the narrow limits and regulations 
imposed by the system of guilds which rigorously prescribed the hours 
of work, the number of qualified workmen, the types of raw material to 
be used, as well as the shape and size of all the means involved. All 
free development, all attempts to overstep these bounds, were vigorously 


suppressed and heavily punished. The efforts of the Middle Ages 
produced good results, but these results were always achieved by genera- 
tion after generation working unwaveringly along perfectly definite 
lines within close limits, freedom of artistic expression alone being- 
permitted. In antiquity the conditions were different; In this case, too, 
there were guilds and for long periods of time the same purpose, was 
pursued with the same means, but other-wise no obstacles were placed in 
the way of free development. Genius was given a free rein. It received 
intelligent encouragement on all sides, in particular frorn the state 
authorities — a condition of things which was not repeated until the end 
of the Middle Ages and then only in isolated instances and at a time, 
namely the Renaissance, which was characterized by having its roots 
in antiquity. But even in this case the complete freedom of former 
times was never fully attained. For whoever dared to advance too far, 
whose spirit even in the realm of technical science soared too far beyond 
the traditional limits, could not always be shielded by the most 
powerful of patrons from being led before the tribunal of the Inquisition 
and from having to submit to whatever consequences ensued. 

We thus see in ancient technical science a period of development 
which is definitely characterized by great results achieved with com- 
paratively simple means, and by unrestrained growth in almost every 
direction. These simple means refer not only to the machines used, but 
above all to the scientific basis on which technical life was founded. 
What has been accomplished technically by the ancients is in many 
■instances so surprising and extraordinary that one often hears the opinion 
that the ancients must have possessed knowledge that has since become 
lost to us ; they must have been familiar with properties, particularly 
of a physical nature, of which we have not the faintest idea. In some 
cases this opinion is not to be entirely ignored, but no cogent proof of its 
correctness have ever been adduced. As has already been mentioned, the 
technical science of antiquity excels in depth of penetration rather than 
in extensiveness. The astronomical, mathematical and physical know- 
ledge then available was exploited to the fullest extent. It was applied 
practically in every way possible at that time. It may be that the 
knowledge of some particular substance or plant which the ancients used 
for a special technical purpose, such as for painting or embalming, has 
not been handed down to posterity ; nevertheless we are fairly well 
informed generally about the extent and details of their knowledge. It 
is not then this knowledge itself that excites our admiration so much as 
the systematic and deliberate manner in which they applied it ; with a 
comparatively meagre equipment they often accomplished as much 
as — indeed, sometimes even more than — we who have at our disposal 
such wide knowledge in the most diverse fields. Among the factors 
utilized to the utmost was human labour and the time-element, to which 
little value was attached at that peripd. We shall refer to these two 
points frequently in the sequel. 

In antiquity, just as in modern times, it was left to a few pre-eminent 
minds to open up new avenues in technical science, apart from the high- 


road of gradually accumulated knowledge. The names of these jnoncers 
have mostly sunk into oblivion ; only a few have survived the passage 
of time. But one fact emerges from what has been passed down to us : 
the technical worker of antiquity had a much higher prestige than in 
later times until quite recently, notwithstanding our pride in this so-called 
technical age and its wonderful achievements. If the technical scientist 
nowadays occupies the position to which his general education, know- 
ledge and achievements entitle him, we must not forget that it has been 
won only after a hard and prolonged struggle, and that even now there 
are representatives of other branches of knowledge who deny him full 
standing. In antiquity, however, the technical expert was a much sought 
after person who enjoyed the greatest respect. It may even be con- 
jectured that among some races there were certain relationships between 
such experts and the priests, who held supreme rank. The form of 
some ancient constructions still bears witness to the high honour in which 
the technical worker was held in antiquity. In the ancient Roman 
Empire, indeed, there was hardly a bridge that was not crowned by a 
.sort of triumphal arch in honour of the builder. The mightiest rulers of 
the world drew the technical scientist into their service and in some cases 
gave him a particularly high position. Very often, too, provision was 
made for the special training of expert workers. Technical officials were 
appointed for the State as well as for the towns, and some armies had 
even a special corps for engineers. 

The influence of technical science in the State was far-reaching in 
antiquity, and there are numerous indications that the ancients were 
fully aware of its importance. The State’s existence could be maintained 
only with the help of the arts and crafts ; they alone could assure the 
prosperity that was the basis of its existence. In almost all the ancient 
empires technical experts checked the overflowing of the rivers and in 
this way rescued large tracts of land from destruction. In many cases 
they knew how to drain marshy country and convert it into fruitful 
land, and to convert sandy deserts into flourishing cornfields by a well- 
built system of irrigation. It was they who created the network of roads 
which made it possible to send the army quickly to the most distant 
frontiers of the empire, so that they could not only be protected from 
hostile attacks but could be continually extended. It was the technical 
worker who built strong walls that defied the onslaught of the enemy, 
and it was he who had to construct the machines by which the enemy 
was finally vanquished. It was he who built and unceasingly improved 
the various means of communication and so encouraged trade, this 
important factor of prosperity. Between the existence of the .State and 
ancient technical science many links w^ere thus forged which in turn 
exerted their influence on the life of the individual. Technical science 
created prosperity and, reciprocally, prosperity presented technical science 
with new problems. Improved conditions called for development in 
Art ; again it was the technical worker who furnished the artist with 
the many requirements of his work. Streets and houses increased in 
dimensions. It w-as the business of the technical \vorker to introduce 


hygienic measures in the form of drains, aqueducts and so forth, the 
need of which in every moderately sized community was recognized 
even in antiquity. The wonderful remnants of these achievements still 
extant are an imperishable testimony to the difficulty of the problems 
that presented themselves and to the masterly way in which they were 

We see, then, that technical science exerted a strong influence over 
the whole of civic and public life in antiquity. It may be said that then, 
just as nowadays, the State which had at its disposal the best technical 
scientists and the best technical equipment had the most favourable 
prospects for the future. Many things prove that the ancients were by 
no means blind to this fact. A knowledge of ancient technical science 
is indispensable to anyone who wishes to comprehend fully the’ mind 
of antiquity. 



N O technical science is possible without mining. This was equally 
true in ancient . times, for no technical development would 
have been possible if man had not known how to wrest from 
the earth the treasures which it held concealed. Comparatively little 
could be done with what it offered voluntarily. • Wood and other parts 
of plants, loose stones, bones of dead animals and fish, satisfied the needs 
of primitive man and savages. At the moment, however, when that 
many-sided development of human activity commenced, which we 
summarize as ‘ civilization’, it was necessary to look round for other 
means. Tools were required for working the materials necessary to 
build houses. Agricultural implements as well as improved weapons 
were needed, and domestic life made demands which could be satisfied 
only by making new .substances available. The major part of these 
could, however, be obtained only by means of mining. 

It may therefore be said that the beginning of civilization among the 
individual peoples coincided with that of mining. It is true that the 
, date when the technical science of ipining commenced in the case of 
any one race cannot be determined even approximately. Probably 
individual peoples of the East, following the instinct for development, 
started quite of themselves to probe the earth for treasure. They 
found, sometimes here, sometimes there, a stone or a precious metal 
which was of use. The desire of possessing more drove them to continue 
cligging. In this way, perhaps, the science of mining gradually evolved. 
When trade and commerce later became factors in life, this science was 
transmitted to other peoples. For example, a Greek legend relates that 
Kadmos, who w’'as probably of Phoenician extraction, had opened up 
gold and silver mines at Mount Pangaeus in Thrace. These mines may 
justifiably be regarded as the oldest in Europe. In the same way mines 
were started by the Phoenicians on several islands in the Mediterranean 
and on the coast of Spain. Similarly commerce was responsible for the 
introduction of mining into other countries. For example, when the 
Emperor Hadrian arrived in Britain with the Sixth Legion in the year 
A.D. 120, he immediately started mines, which were w^orked and improved 


till the year 409. He, of course, applied the methods usual in Roman 

Mining was at different stages of advancement among the various 
ancient peoples. It was particularly developed among the Egyptians, who 
probably opened up copper mines on the peninsula of Sinai as early as the 
third millennium B.c. Besides these the vast quarries of Turra near Cairo 
have also been preserved; they prove to us that at that very early 
date open working had been given up in favour of shafts. The ancient 
Egyptians were thus not satisfied with merely removing the stones in 
the hill from the outside, but penetrated far into the interior. Wells 
of the same period, for example, Joseph’s well at Cairo, descend 
up to 300 ft. vertically into the earth. In view of the fact that these 
shafts were constructed about 2500 bx., it can hardly be doubted that 
similar ones were also dug out for mining purposes in some cases. 

The high standard of mining construction attained by the Egyptians 
is rivalled by the Indians and the Chinese, who likewise sank pits about 
5,000 years ago. These mines are mostly choked up nowadays and 
investigators have given them scant attention. Nevertheless, there are 
other indications that men knew even at that early time how to dis- 
tinguish the mineral ore from the sterile stone. These were separated 
and, just as nowadays, the dross was collected into great heaps. The 
pit-heaps of our modern mines are an inexhaustible source of information 
for the mineralogist, the geologist, the mining engineer and the repre- 
sentatives of several other branches of research. In the same way the 
pit-heaps of ancient mines bear striking testimony to the standard 
reached in a lost science. They enable us to recognize the metals of 
which the production was at that time promoted and give us clues to 
the means adopted for that purpose. The metals themselves and the 
art of working in metal , are dealt with in other sections of this book. 
Here, where we wish to discuss the question of mining, we are primarily 
concerned only with the construction and working of ancient mines. 

Before going into details we must preface our remarks by mentioning 
that almost all ancient peoples sank and worked their mines according 
to the same principles. It has already been remarked that in consequence 
of the growth of trade and commerce technical science was communicated 
from people to people. We thus find in the Indian and Chinese mines 
very much the same conditions as later in the Phoenician and Egyptian 
mines, and .still later in those of the Greeks, Romans, Celts, Gauls, Britons 
and others. The treasures that were being sought and the ores that 
were being separated out differ more or less in the various countries, 
but the manner of their extraction was much the same in all. 

The miner of ancient times was nearly always either a slave or a 
criminal. This explains why the means used remained almost unchanged 
for thousands of years. The purpose of machines is to economize labour 
or time. It was not considered necessary to make the work easier for 
the slave, whose hard lot inspired no sympathy, although it kept him to 
the end of his days buried in the gloomy depths of the earth, suffering all 
sorts of torments and privations. There was mostly a superabundance of 


slaves. After campaigns there were usually so many that great numbers 
of them were massacred. So there was no dearth of labour. Time 
was as yet but little valued. And so it happened that in almost all 
the mines of the ancients only the simplest means were adopted. In 
the copper mines of Rio Tinto and Tharsis in the Spanish province of 
Huelva, which were worked by the Romans and the Carthaginians, the 
method of working was so simple that the slaves in the mines had to 
scratch off with their fingers the clay which covered the ore. The clay 
which is found nowadays in ancient mines still bears the impress of 
thousands of fingers ; if we examine them we make a curious observation, 
viz., that on account of the nature of the work the thumb is very highly 
developed, as in the case of certain artisans even at the present time. 
Usually, however, the ancients used hammers and wedges, and probably 
also bones and horns. A familiar emblem of mining consists of two 
crossed hammer-shaped tools, the mallet and the wedge, the former 
serving as a hammer, while the edge of the latter was forced into the 
stone. The tools of the ancient miner exhibit the same form. No 
matter whether they are 
of horn, bone, stone or 
metal we always find the 
‘ iron that is, the wedge, 
which was held against 
the stone and which was 
struck by means of a 
mallet. It is significant 
that among the miners in 
Germany the mallet is 
still called ' Faustel 
(miner’s hammer), a name 
which is immediately explained by the discovery — in ancient mines 
or their pit-heaps — of stones whose form indicates that they were used 
as hammers, being grasped in the fist. In a choked-up tunnel of the 
ancient Roman mine mentioned above (in the Spanish province of Huelva), 
fifteen skeletons were found of which several were still holding the 
‘ Faustel ’ in their hands at the time of the discovery. But the ‘ Faustel ’ 
was often provided with a handle and thus converted into a proper 
hammer, and similarly a handle was stuck through or tied on to the 

We also find such tools represented on ancient votive tablets that 
probably date from the seventh or sixth century J3.c., and are the only 
remaining pictorial representations of the working of ancient mines. 
These votive tablets, the so-called Corinthian pinakes, are made of 
painted clay. Most of them are pre.served in the Berlin Antiquarium. 
They .show that on account of the heat the miners usually went about 
their work naked or simply wore an apron. The form of the hammer 
and the length of the handle as in the case of the other tools were adapted 
to the nature of the mineral and to the type of work, which was done 
1 The German word ‘ Faust ’ signifies fist, — H. L. B, 

Figs, i and 2. — Representation of the method of work- 
ing in ancient Mines, according to the Corinthian 


sometimes in a standing, sometimes in a sitting, sometimes in a lying 
posture. We see from the tablets that the mines were illuminated by 
amphorae suspended from the roof, although the more usual method of 
lighting was by lamps placed in small stone cavities. Further, boys 
collected the mineral in baskets provided with a handle, which were 
then tied up and passed up to other boys, who likewise passed them on 
or else carried them away (see Figs, i and 2). The left side of Fig. 2 
leads us to surmise that in order to descend into the mines either steps 
were hewn out of the stone (perhaps ladders were used) or wooden blocks 
were let into the stone. 

The tunnels constructed in the rock by these simple means are often 
of astonishing length. It has been computed and confirmed by observing 
the marks of wedges that in even relatively soft stone -the progress made 
amounted to about half an inch in twenty-four hours : in hard stone it 
was not more than 25 or 30 ft. per year. This low efficiency was com- 
pensated to some extent by making the tunnels very low, by working 
only along the seams of the ore and by avoiding as far as possible the 
removal of unnecessary stone. Consequently, the galleries and tunnels 
were so narrow that a slave could squeeze himself through only with great 
difficulty. In many mines, in particular in those of the Egyptians, Greeks 
and Romans, children were employed, so that as little stone as possible 
would have to be removed. Although the slaves must have become 
weakened by their sojourn in the mines and by the unhealthy posture 
during work, as well as through sickness — in lead mines particularly 
through lead-poisoning — they must often have used very heavy tools. 
Hammers have been found which weighed between 20 and 26 lbs. 

At the same time there were no precautions against accidents. The 
galleries were not propped up and therefore often collapsed, burying 
workmen beneath them. In ancient mines many skeletons have been 
found of slaves who had lost their lives in this way while at work. Nor 
were attempts made to replenish the supply of air or to take other steps 
for preserving health. Mffien the air in the mines became so hot and 
foul that breathing was rendered impossible the place was abandoned 
and an attack was made at some other point. These conditions must 
have become still more trying wherever, in addition to the mallet and 
chisel, the only other means of detaching the stone was applied, namely 
fire. The mineral-bearing stone was heated and water was then poured 
over it. There was no outlet for the resulting smoke and vapours. 
This method of constructing tunnels and galleries is described by Pliny 
somewhat as follows : ‘ Tunnels are bored into the mountains and are 
carefully explored. These tunnels are called “arrugiae," little ways or 
little streets. They often collapse and bury many workers. When 
hard minerals occur one seeks to blast them with fire and vinegar.^ 
As the resulting steam and smoke often fill the tunnels, the work- 
men prefer to split the rock into pieces of 150 lbs. or more, and for this 
purpose they use iron wedges and hammers. ^ These pieces are removed 

1 Concerning the ‘ vinegar ’ used for blasting rock, see p, 461, 

^ Tlie exact sense of the Latin is doubtful. — Trans, 



from the galleries that have been hewn out, so that an open cavern is 
formed. So many of these caverns or hollows are made adjacent to 
each other in the mountain that finally they collapse with a loud noise, 
and so the mineral in the interior becomes exposed. Often the eagerly 
sought gold vein fails to appear, and the long sustained and arduous 
work which had often cost many human lives has been in vain.’ 

It is surprising what depths were reached by these simple means. 

Figs. 3 and 4. — Spoon-shaped Miners’ Lamps of Lead 
Found at Villefranche 

When Diodorus relates that the Romans had mine-pits which were 
‘ some stadia deep,’ he is certainly not exaggerating. ^ For example, 
a copper tablet with an ancient Roman inscription has been found in a 
Spanish mine at a depth of 650 ft. 

That part of mining which we nowadays call ’ transport ’ was no less 
simply effected. The ore W'as filled into sacks or chests 'whiich were 
dragged out by children, as only they were able to make progress in the 
narrow galleries with their burden. If a cavity was reached in the 
interior on the way out, the ore was probably picked there and then ; 

^ See p. 50 [. It is sufficiently accurate to take I stadium = 202 yards. — H.X, B. 


otherwise the sorting was done above by daylight. From the size of 
the bags and the specific weight of the ores it has been calculated that 
the burden carried by such a child often amounted to as much as 
45 lbs. It is distressing to think how many of these children must 
have broken down under their heavy burdens and the whips of the 
overseers. Many of the tunnels in ancient mines were so steep that 
ropes must have been used for effecting transportation, just as in the 
case of vertical shafts. Such ropes have, however, not been discovered. 

The farther one penetrated into the interior the greater was the 
chance of water channels being encountered, and hence of the mines 
becoming flooded. No precautionary measures were taken against this 
danger such as we should consider adequate. The water was scooped 

Figs. 5, 6 and 7. — ^Miners’ Earthenware Lamps 

Found, in Villefranche 

out by means of vessels or leather skins which were passed from hand 
to hand. The Egyptians hauled up these bags by ropes, which were 
wound up on a windlass. This very ancient method of transporting 
water is still used nowadays to draw water from wells. When the water 
could no longer be drawn off in this way, the mines had to be allowed 
to become flooded ; this often meant that the labour of many decades 
and, indeed, sometimes of centuries, was lost. 

The illumination of ancient mines was no less simple than all the 
other arrangements. In many cases light was provided by pieces of 
wood soaked in resin or fat and attached to the walls by means of lumps 
of clay. Bundles of twigs were also sometimes ignited. In several ancient 
Roman mines as, for example, at Villefranche, spoon-shaped miners’ 
lamps of lead have also been found (Figs. 3 and 4). The hollow of the 
spoon was filled with oil into which a wick was immersed and then lit. 
The lamp was held by a straight stem. In the same mines there have 
also been found earthenware lamps which resemble in form and appear- 


ance those that were used for domestic purposes (Figs. 5, 6, 7). A lamp 
mentioned by Treptow and found in Tunis consisted of a double layer 
of sheet-lead, which proves that these lamps were also sometimes made 
of lead — probably because those of earthenware were too easily broken 
during mining operations. The expense incurred in this way was of 
little account at that time, but it was probably very unpleasant to have 
lamps broken as the mines would be left in darkness. They were therefore 
often made of more lasting material. 

The art of mining appears to have made almost no technical progress 
during the whole of antiquity, that is, from the date of the earliest traces 
recorded to the fall of the Roman Empire. This can but increase our 
wonder at the prodigious results achieved in this branch of work, both as 
regards the depth of the shafts and the quantity of ore raised, results 
that can be accounted for only by the very great number of human beings 
sacrificed in the cause of gain. 


T he Greek poet Hesiod, who lived round about the year 770 b.c,, 
relates the well-known story of the four different ages of the 
human race : the Gold, the Silver, the Bronze, and the Iron 
Age, For a long time this fable was believed, and it was assumed that 
man had become acquainted first with gold, then with silver, which 
was followed by bronze, and finally with iron. Recent investigations 
have proved that this assumption is untenable. They show that there 
can be no question, among the peoples of antiquity, of any age having 
been characterized by the chief use of one particular metal. In the first 
place it cannot be determined which metal first became known to man. 
Further, the same conditions do not hold among all peoples. Thus a 
Bronze Age in the sense of Hesiod is an impossibility, for the simple 
reason that there were many races among the Ancients who entirely 
lacked the substances necessary for making bronze. They could there- 
fore have become acquainted with bronze only if trade relationships had 
existed between them and other peoples who were in possession of these 
substances. But if they had already had trade relationships with other 
peoples who were familiar with the extraction of iron, the Bronze Age 
must, of course, have been preceded by an Iron Age in their case. On 
the other hand, gold is certainly among the oldest of known metals. 
For wherever it had been precipitated in the form of small particles in 
streams its shimmering brightness must readily have attracted attention. 
But gold in this particular form is not to be discovered everywhere, and 
so not a few peoples must have known and used other metals long 
before gold first met their gaze. 


In general it may be asserted that most peoples at the beginning of 
their history were acquainted with gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, and, 
in many cases, also tin. It has been definitely established that the 
Egyptians, when they first entered, the realm of history, that is, about 
3000 B.C., were familiar with gold, copper, silver, lead, and iron. Gold, 
which they called ‘ nub,’ was alleged to have been discovered by Osiris 
and was supplied by Nubia, the Land of Gold. As the Nubians did not 
voluntarily deliver up their treasures of gold, the Egyptians were con- 
tinually making warlike incursions into their country. The wealth of 



Egypt or, rather, Ethiopia, was supposed to have been so great that, 
according to Herodotus’ narrative, even the prisoners were bound with 
chains of gold — a fact which excited the astonishment of the ambassadors 
of the Persian King Cambyses (Herodotus III, 22, 23). The stories 
of Herodotus are, however, a mixture of fact and fable. As no such 
golden slave-chains have ever been discovered, this tale is best consigned 
to the region of fancy. Nevertheless, the riches that the Egyptians 
derived from the Nubian gold mines were stupendous. Diodorus reports 
that the annual yield of the Nubian gold mines at the time of Ramses II 
(1300-1230 B.c.) appoached 32 million minae,that is, about £132,000,000. 

A detailed description of the technical extraction of gold as practised 
by the ancient Egyptians has been handed down to us by Diodorus. 

Fig. 8. — Gold-washing in Egypt 

Two workmen treat the gold with water in a sack which they swing to and fro in order to remove the tighter particles 
of sand. The sacks probably contain sponges in which the fine particles of gold remain suspended. The tables below 
seem to the author to be formed like chests or cisterns into which the water used for the washing flows by way of 
the funnels indicated at the top. The water is thus collected in the chests, so that any gold still contained in it can 
be extracted by repeating the operation. Painting from Beni Hasan, i6th century b.c, 

Nubian gold was present in quartz in the form of veins. Slaves and 
convicts worked at it in the manner already described in the section on 
‘ Mining ’ by cutting passages with the help of hammers and sharp 
wedges along the direction of the gold veins. Youths under seventeen 
years carried away the fractured stone, which was then further broken" 
up in stone mortars with the aid of iron pestles. The raw material 
containing the gold was first reduced to the size of a pea. These small 
pieces were next ground down to a powder in stone mills. The powder 
was placed on wooden tables and washed gently with water, sponges 
being used to which the free grains of gold adhered. The washing swept 
away the light sand while the sand which was heavier on account of the 
contained gold was left behind. This residue was then melted up with 
lead in order to separate the gold from the stone. Another smelting- 
process followed, during which fresh lead and common salt were added. 
This stage lasted for five days. The impurities in the gold, the com- 
pounds formed by it and the added ingredients, as well as the excess of 

10 metaHs and their extraction 

the latter, was partly sublimated and partly formed a slag with the silver 
chloride, which was produced by the silver present with the gold in the 
ore, and with the substance composing the smelting-pot. Pure gold was 
left as a residue in the pot. Bellows w^ere used in the smelting furnaces ; 
they were expanded by pulling up cords and compressed by treading 
with the feet. 

The extraction of gold by the peoples of the East was probably carried 
out in an analogous way. Among all of them gold is to be found, partly 
derived from their own sources and partly imported from Africa. Certain 
countries, such as, for example, the mythical land of gold, Ophir, which 
was probably situated in South Africa and from which King Solomon 
procured the gold necessary to build his temple, are famous for the wealth 
of gold they contained. But the technical extraction of gold had not 
everywhere reached the high standard attained by the ancient Egyptians, 
who, as we have seen, applied chemical and metallurgical processes. 
Wherever gold was discovered as a secondary deposit, that is, already 
washed out of the weather-worn stone, simpler means were used to 
extract it. Strabo (XI, 2, 19) describes this method of extraction as 
follows : ‘ It is related also that mountain streams carry gold down into 
the valleys and that the barbarians catch it in troughs, which are pierced 
with holes, and on fleeces ; hence, they say, comes the legend of the 
Golden Fleece h This method of extraction is confirmed by Appian 
[Bellum Mithridaticum, 103) : ' Many springs conduct gold out of 

the Caucausus in the form of invisible bodies, and the inhabitants place 
sheepskins with thick fleeces in the stream. They then collect from 
the skins the fine particles that are held fast in them. The golden 
fleece of Aeetes was perhaps something of this sort.’ Actually, the 
Argonautic Expedition (about 1350 b.c.), which the Greeks undertook 
to Colchis/ the land of gold, was an ordinary raiding adventure ; they 
probably pursued no other purpose than of securing golden fleeces as 
their booty, that is, the rams’ skins placed in the water to arrest the 
golden grains. From this aspect the old Greek story of the Argonauts 
gives us a remarkable insight into an old method of extracting gold, 
which, moreover, up till a few decades ago was practised in a similar 
way in Africa and California. The Romans used similar processes when 
they plundered the Spanish gold deposits. In this case the gold existed 
in the interior of mountains. The problem was first to get it into the 
daylight. To achieve this a singular procedure was adopted, according 
to the information of Pliny. By boring shafts one reached the interior 
of the mountain, where a cave was hollowed out, whose ceiling was 
supported by props. These props were afterwards made to collapse, and 
in consequence the cave fell in. The rubble was then washed by means 
of currents of water which were introduced into the interior of the 
mountain by specially constructed leads [corrugi). The issuing waters 
were distributed among numerous trenches [agogae), along which it 
gently flowed. Foliage and twigs were inserted in these ditches, playing 

1 Now called Mingrelia, situated in Georgia, The explanation of the Golden 
Fleece is fantastic. — H. L. B. 



the part of the fleece. The gold collected in them and was then melted 
together. According to calculations by Breidenbach, the Romans 
treated (diiefly in the Spanish gold mines) about 500 million tons of rock 
in this way in order to extract the contained gold. 


Silver, also called white gold, came into use among the Egyptians 
later than gold. It was probably introduced into Egypt by the 
Phoenicians. An alloy of gold and silver called ‘ asem ’ was regarded 
in olden times as an independent metal. This alloy, which, according 
to recent analysis, contains 80 to 75 per cent, of gold and 20 to 25 per cent. 

of silver, was called ‘ electrum’^ by Pliny, and represents a combination 
which can be obtained directly from Nature or can be prepared artificially. 
In contrast with the Egyptians the Romans, who produced it artificially, 
had already recognized that ‘ asem ’ or ‘ electrum ’ w^as no independent 
metal. On the other hand, native silver w'^as unknown to Pliny, 
This is the more surprising as a considerable portion of the silver used by 
the ancients was presumably found in the metallic state. At the 
beginning of the Persian wars (490-449 b.c.) the silver mines of Attica 
yielded over £100,000 worth of silver. That silver was used in Greece 
very long ago may be gathered , from the fact that Homer speaks of its 
uses in various connections. He relates, for example, that tlie sw'ord of 

1 In the opinion of Rhousopoulos, the name (which had already been used in 
ancient Greece) was due to the fact that the colour of the alloy resembled that of 
amber (rjAexTQOv) , 


Achilles had a silver ' haft ’ or hilt {Iliad, I, 219), and that his shield had 
a silver handle {Iliad, XVIII, 480), and so forth. It is fairly safe to 
assert that silver was much more widely circulated than gold among all 
peoples of antiquity. Germania ^ was poorly supplied with this metal. 
In the time of Tacitus there was only one solitary silver mine. 

When the silver was not found in its elementary metallic state it was 
obtained from argentiferous ores by metallurgical processes. No trust- 
worthy information is, however, available about the form of these 
processes. They are, indeed, mentioned by ancient writers but are 
never accurately or minutely described ; almost the only detailed account 
that has been preserved, that of Pliny,^ is so obscure and confused that 
no proper idea of the method of extracting silver can be formed from it. 
Pliny himself probably understood very little of it, and wrote down 
vaguely only what he had heard. From his statements as well as from 
those of Strabo (IV, 399, 400) it is at any rate clear that galena (lead 
sulphide) containing silver was treated metallurgically, or that silver ore 
was smelted with lead. 

In both cases the smelting process produced lead containing silver 
(workable lead). The lead was then removed by heating the mixture 
on an open hearth with access of air, thus transforming the lead into 
one of its oxides, red lead or litharge {WdQyvQOQ), The pure silver 
remains behind. In this process there was also formed a slag {atiojQia, 
containing probably about 24 per cent, of lead and spodium 
{onobdi;). Analysis shows that spodium is zinc oxide, which forms as a 
deposit on the upper parts of the furnace. 

The purity of the silver was tested by heating. Pure silver may be 
glowed in air without changing its colour. If it turns a brownish-red 
when heated on an iron plate, it is, according to the view of the ancients, 
not quite pure ; and if it turns black, it is impure. This observation 
is quite correct, for we know that the alloys of silver with other metals, 
in particular lead and copper, change colour in the manner described, 
when heated in air. Nevertheless, the other metals that occur in silver 
ores, as well as in lead ores containing silver, must sometimes have caused 
considerable trouble. It is to be assumed that arsenic and zinc raised 
difficulties which were perhaps overcome, particularly in Greece, by the 
construction of special furnaces, in which they could vaporize. Various 
circumstances point to this conclusion, above aU, the fact that the earthen 
votive tablets, already mentioned on page 3, the Corinthian pinakes, 
also exhibit line-drawings of furnaces. Moreover, in various localities 
remains of these furnaces have been discovered. So far as can be recog- 
nized from the Corinthian pinakes, the furnaces were fired from below 
and had an opening at the top which allowed the smoke to escape and 
through which the flames probably leaped forth at times. Some (Fig. 9) 
seem to have been fed with fuel from below, others (Figs, ii and 12) 
from above. This view is supported by the raised ledge on the side and 

1 Itt ancient geography Germania refers to the region included between the North 
Sea, Baltic, Vistula, Danube and Rhine.— H.L.B. 

2 Hist, nat,, in particular XXXIII, 6, 31, 35, 44 ; and XXXIV, 16, 47. 


tlie man shown in the act of stepping up. The furnaces have an opening 
in the centre which seems to pass right through and which probably 
represents a muffle or a refining-hearth. Where there is no step a ladder 
is used to mount the hearth. On one votive tablet (Fig. 13) a furnace 
is to be seen which is apparently burnt out ; the slag is being removed 
through the hollow step. In many parts, above all in Greece, the silver 
was specially again purified before being worked into ornaments, coins, 
and so forth. The process of refinement adopted is not known. The 
slag left over from this process (at this stage called aQyvQlriQ Key%Qog, — 
silver millet) was again treated by a process, also unknown, which allowed 
the silver still contained in it to be extracted, 


Copper was no less widely distributed than silver. When it first 
became known cannot be determined. But it is probable that many 
ancient peoples knew copper long before iron. The reverse is true of the 
Germanic races. They became acquainted with copper long after they 
had used iron, and it is to be assumed that they never prepared it them- 
selves but acquired it by trading. With this exception, however, we 
find copper among all other ancient peoples, and in some cases, indeed, 
in very considerable quantity, both as pure copper and also combined 
with tin in its most important and much used alloy, bronze. It is 
impossible to count up all the old sources of copper, as their number is 
legion. The oldest copper mines of Egypt are situated on Mount Sinai 
and, according to Berthelot, were started into action about 5000 B.c. 
This figure is probably too high. The fact remains, however, that the 
old copper mines of Sinai were still being worked in the reigir of the 
Egyptian king, Thothmes III (1515-1461 b.c.). The ores of these mines 
contained chiefly the green carbonate and the acid silicate of copper 
(malachite andchrysocolla). The percentage of ore in the sandstone was 
not large, so that to extract the copper very elaborate preparations were 
necessary at the beginning. To smelt the ore furnaces of sandstone were 
used, into which crucibles composed of a mixture of quartz, sand and 
clay were placed. As Mount Sinai was not wooded at that time the 
firewood or fuel necessary for the furnace must have been brought from 
far away. Slags discovered in 1896, which are partly heavy and dark, 
partly light in both colour and weight, as well as solidified glass bubbles 
of very varied composition, prove that the action of the furnace was 
irregular and imperfect, and that the process of extracting the copper 
was not always carried out in a uniform way. No indications of the 
use of bellows have been found at Mount Sinai. According to HcvSiod, 
however, crucibles were later used by the Greeks, which were provided 
with lateral apertures through which wind could be blown by a bellows. 
Whereas sulphurous ores were often used elsewhere, only oxides were 
treated metallurgically at Mount Sinai. 

Ores containing sulphur were, however, worked to extract the copper 
by all manner of ancient peoples. These ores, called pyrites, were trans- 
formed into oxides, by being first subjected to a process of roasting. 


Dioscorides has left us extensive information about this stage, which reveals 
that the roasting or burning was carried out exactly after the model of 
lime-burning. Furnaces or kilns were made of the material itself and, 
after having been supplied with fuel, were filled with the ore to be roasted. 
The fuel was then ignited and the work of the burner was devoted only 
to keeping up the supply of fuel. The pyrites roasted themselves ; 
the end of the process was recognized, according to Dioscorides, by the 
ore having become red. The proper smelting-furnaces for copper, such 
as were particularly used on the island of Cyprus, which exported great 
quantities of copper to all parts of the ancient world from the earliest 
times, were high cupolas fed through a furnace-mouth from above. 
Into this mouth alternate layers of copper-ore and charcoal were intro- 
duced. The whole mass was then again smelted, air being blown through 
from below by means of bellows. This construction is thus in its essentials 
similar to that of the smelting-furnaces of the large foundries of our own 
times. For the rest, smelting-pots or crucibles were also used ; indeed, 
in the extraction of copper very different types of furnaces seem to have 
been utilized in the different countries. 

In the metallurgical process of extraction a mixture of copper, slag 
dross (at the mouth), spongy impurities, and a regulus of copper was 
obtained. As the copper was still impure it had to be re-smelted. Pliny 
relates that this was repeated again and again until the copper was of 
the required purity. The re-smelting took place in furnaces of various 
shapes, from which the copper was probably drawn off and solidified 
by cooling with water. For trade purposes copper was prepared not 
only in the form of plates but also as blocks. Like many other metal- 
lurgical processes of the ancients, however, the effective yield of copper 
from this process was rather unsatisfactory. Whereas only about 15 to 
25 per cent, of the copper contained in the ores was extracted, the slag 
sometimes contained not less than 50 per cent. 


Tin, like copper, played an important part in antiquity. Without 
doubt it is one of the oldest metals known at that time. The date of its 
discovery is not yet definitely established. The weight of tin-ore probably 
suggested that it contained a metal ; and this metal was perhaps acci- 
dentally discovered while the ore was being smelted with wood or charcoal. 
Tin is already mentioned in the Old Testament. All peoples of the 
East were familiar with it. It was known even in countries where 
no tin-ore existed, and this leads us to infer that a great amount 
of tin-ore must have been imported into these countries at that 
time. The fact that Herodotus makes special mention of the Tin Islands, 
the Cassiterides,^ points to the same conclusion. It has not been possible 
to determine their position, and, indeed, it is not certain whether the term 
itaaaksQOQ actually denoted tin in Homer’s time. The first unmistakable 
use of this expression for tin occurs in the first century a.d. Moreover, 
besides yMaaksQog other terms were also used for tin, in particular 
1 Identified by some authorities as the Scilly Islands. — H. L. B. 


/A.oXv^6og. The Romans cvilledit -plumbum candidtimoTalhim. The word 
sianmim, which was originally written stagmm, denoted crude lead. 
In fact, tin and lead were often confused in antiquity ; this is easy 
to understand seeing that analysis in our sense was unknown at that 
early date and that metals often were distinguished only by their outward 
appearance. Later on, however, lead and tin could be clearly distin- 
guished, and Pliny states explicitly that the lead plates usecl by the 
Romans for water-pipes were soldered by means of an alloy consisting 
of two parts of lead and one part of tin. He also writes about the plating 
of copper vessels by tin, incidentally mentioning that the weight of the 
copper did not increase in the process, so that only a very thin layer of 
tin could have been applied. 

Tin was extracted by the ancients exclusively from stannic ores, 
which were probably for the greater part derived from Britain, which 
is by some regarded as the ' Islands of Tin ’, while others identify them 
with India, an opinion which is based on the fact that the Sanskrit 
name for tin is kastira. The Phoenicians, at any rate, obtained their 
tin from India. Later, the Spanish tin mines were exploited and, after 
the conquest of Britain by the Romans, particularly those in what is 
now Cornwall. No direct accounts have been passed down to us of the 
method by whicli tin was extracted by the ancients. From remains 
of furnaces, however, it is clear that the method was a simple process 
of reducing and smelting. It was carried out by heating the ore over a 
wood fire, by which the contained tin oxide was reduced ; the metallic 
tin thus obtained was simply smelted out. 

Whether bellows were later used appears doubtful. Apertures at the 
bottom of some furnaces may be regarded as wind-holes through which 
air was forced in order to intensify the glow of the fire. But they may 
also have served merely as a more convenient means of drawing off the 
metal. Their purpose seems not yet to have been definitely establi.shed. 


Far more important than copper and tin in themselves in ancient 
times was the bronze alloy composed of both. It may very well be said, 
indeed, that bronze was the characteristic feature of that epoch. Bronze 
— at that time called ‘brass' and undistinguished in name from copper — 
seems at first chiefly to have served the purpose of imbuing the copper 
with greater hardness and firmness. This does not, however, always 
appear to have been successful. For example, in ancient Thebes a 
chisel has been found which is one of the earliest specimens of Egyptian 
bronze, and which is so soft that, when pressed against a stone, it 
simply bends back. It is composed of 94 parts of copper, 5-9 parts of 
tin, and. o-i parts of iron. Later, harder bronzes were made, which 
were called cJiomt in Egypt, and are in general of fairly uniform, 
composition. On the average they contain 80 to 85 parts of copper 
and 20 to 15 parts of tin. It is not certain who discovered bronze. 
There are indications that it was perhaps first made in the valley of 


the Euphrates, where it was already known about the year 2000 u.c. 
The Jews may have been acquainted with a copper alloy still earlier, 
for the Bible speaks of Tubal-Cain, ‘an instructor of every artificer 
in brass and iron,’ but it appears doubtful whether the term ^ for 
brass in this quotation (from Genesis iv. 22) really signifies bronze. 
The Greeks and Romans also made very extensive use of bronzes, 
which were, indeed, an important factor of civilization in ancient 
times. On account of its low melting point, which lies between 786° 
and 900° Centigrade, and its beautiful colour, as well as the ease with 
which its properties could be modified by altering the proportion of 
the contained tin, it enjoyed wide popularity. Concerning the technical 
properties of ancient bronzes it is to be remarked that when they 
contained less than 5 per cent, of tin, they could be shaped while 
cold. Bronzes containing 10 parts of tin were chiefly used for making 
tools, and those containing more than 15 parts could be used only 
for casting purposes, on account of their hard and brittle quality. 

The melting-points of various ancient bronzes are as follows : 

Bronze containing 8 parts of tin . . . . 900° C. 

13 w 835^0. - 

,, ,, 25 ,, ,, .... 786° C. 

Detailed analyses of ancient bronzes have been carried out by 
Berthelot, Andree, Rhousopoulos and others. They show that ancient 
bronzes contained not only copper and tin, but also other very different 
metals, although only in small proportions. These admixtures were 
due to the imperfect development of metallurgical processes at that 
time. In the following table we give some analyses of antique bronzes 
which exhibit their varying composition and indicate the manifold 
variety of admixed metals. 

We first give analyses of Assyrian bronzes now in the British Museum 
(according to Fellenberg) : 

Name of Object. 




Iron. 1 





I. Thick grey rod .... 








2. Bent rod . . . ... 




a trace 

■ — 

; — , 


3. Ornament on a domestic 
utensil . . . . . 






4. .Round pieces from a bowl . 






These analyses are of particular importance because, in addition to 
the metals arsenic, antimony, iron and nickel contained presumably as 
impurities in one of the bronzes (No. i), there is so high a percentage of 
lead that we must conclude that it was intentionally added as an 
ingredient. According to von Bibra, no lead occurs in the bronzes of the 
true bronze period. This comparatively large proportion of lead leads 
^ The German Bible uses the word ‘ Erz which may stand for ore, metal, brass 
or bronze. — -H.L.B. 

BRONZE ’ 17 

him to conclude that these bronzes were made after the true bronze period, 
indicating that a higher degree of civilization had already been reached. 
Later Assyrian bronzes have a proportion of lead which varies between 
7 per cent, and 9 per cent. 

The following table gives further analyses of different ancient bronzes 
(according to Ledebur) ; 











Dagger (old Egyptian) ^ . 






Arrow head (old Egyptian) 







. — 


Bronze bowl from Nineveh 
liandle of a vessel from 

80 -8 


' — 






Mycenae . ... 



. — 

— - 


— . 

— . 

— . 

Coin (old Attic) 







" — . 

Coin (Athenian) ... 


7 - 0.5 





— ■ 

— , ■ 

Statue of Victory (Brescia) 







— - 

Coin (of Titus Claudius) . 




, — 





Coin (of Nero) .... 





— . 




Coin (of Diocletian) . . 



— . 




— ■■ 

^ There is a remarkable coincidence between the chemical compositioir of this 
old Egyptian .dagger and that of the bronzes contained in a prehistoric musical 
wind-instrument discovered at Daberkow in the district of Demmin, Hither 
Pomerania. The analysis of the latter was given by Rathgen as ; copper, 85 -03 per 
cent. ; tin, 13-96 per cent.; other metals (lead, iron, cobalt), i-i per cent. 

In general, silver does not occur in ancient bronzes. In later Roman 
times there occur, however, bronzes containing silver, which were used 
for making ‘silver’ coins, but which contained so little silver that, to 
be correct, we must class them among bronze coins. In fact, the analyses 
of Roman silver coins, which were carried out by Klaproth, Thomson, 
and others, present an excellent picture of the decline of the Roman 
Empire. As its power waned, so the content of the copper in its coins 
increased. Towards the end they were made of a bronze containing 
silver, and finally (under the Emperor Gallienus) they were made only 
of copper and plated with tin. It has already been pointed out above 
that Pliny mentions the art of tin-plating as practised in Rome. 

As is evident from the last table above, ancient bronzes were found 
to contain no zinc at all except in a few very rare cases, as for example 
in an ancient Egyptian statue which is at present in the Germanischcs 
Museum at Nuremberg, More sensible quantities of zinc do not occur 
in regular proportions in old bronzes until the time of the Romans. 
This leads to the conclusion that zinc was not added intentionally to 
the alloy before this comparatively late date. These alloys owe their 
origin to the fact that to obtain different tints of bronze the mineral 
calamine ^ derived from Spanish mines was added to the raw material 
used in making the bronze. 

^ Latin cadmla, from Greek (ge) caclmcan (eartli). 



Pure zinc was altogether unknown to the ancients. The Romans 
did, indeed, use the natural zinc-ore (the carbonate) in the form of 
calamine (see above) for manifold purposes, but they did not know how 
to extract the metallic element from it. Besides using calamine for 
preparing certain bronzes in which zinc was to be an ingredient, they 
used it to extract zinc oxide (‘ cadmia ’) and chiefly to manufacture brass. 
But ‘ cadmia ' was also used to denote an ore whose exact composition 
has not yet been determined. It is probable that brass owes its discovery 
to the accidental smelting of copper-ore with calamine, the result of 
which was the beautiful yellow alloy. According to pseudo-Aristotle 
{de mirab. aus., lxxii/63), the Moss5moikoi who inhabited the shores of 
the Black Sea are the discoverers of brass. Some hold the opinion that 
the word ‘Messing’ (German for brass) is due to these Mossynoikoi, 
but its derivation from the Latin massa, that is mass, seems more likely 
to be correct. All that has been definitely established is that brass was 
known at the time of the Roman Empire. It is mentioned by Pliny, 
Vergil, Strabo, Horace, Cicero and Plautus. Whether the alloys men- 
tioned by Homer, Plato, and so forth were actually brass is uncertain. 

The aurichalcum {dgeixalxog) of the ancients was probably nothing 
other than brass. The identity of the substance which this term signifies 
has long been a subject of discussion. In the opinion of the author there 
are two facts that speak in favour of the interpretation ‘ brass.’ In the 
first place the grammarian Sextus Pomponius Festus (probably of the 
second century a.d.) describes the preparation of ‘ aurichalcum.’ He 
states that it was prepared by throwing cadmia on to copper. Concerning 
cadmia it is to be remarked that it is an ‘ earth.’ It is important to note 
this, as it precludes the notion of cadmia being an ore in the sense of 
the ancients. So the reference is to zinc oxide ; this naturally produces 
brass when smelted with copper, A second proof that ‘ aurichalcum ’ 
stands for brass is furnished by Blumner, who refers to a metal plate 
found between Bdle and Augst ^ and bearing the actual inscription 
‘ aurichalcum.’ Its analysis, according to Fellenberg, showed that it 
contained a high percentage of zinc. The fact that ‘ aurichalcum ’ was 
sometimes also used to denote other alloys is very well explained by 
Percy, who points out that even nowadays the terms brass and. bronze 
are continually confused by the technical worker as well as by the layman. 
This is particularly so in the case of metal ornaments. 

Certain circumstances make it probable that the Romans were also 
acquainted with an alloy of zinc and iron, ‘ hard zinc ’ (Diergart) . 


In contrast with zinc, lead played an extremely important part over 
the whole period of ancient history. It was known even to the early 
Egyptians, Indians and Jews. The first Pharaohs who gained victories 
1 In Switzerland on the left bank of the Rhine. — H.L.B. 



in Asia, had some of their tributcPpaid in the form of lead by the 
conquered peoples. Thothmes III brought home lead as a spoil of victory ; 
this lead was apparently partly used as roofing, as seems to be borne 
out by a picture in the temple of Ramses III, in which long plates with 
rounded corners are depicted and on which is written the word taht 
(lead), in hieroglyphics. According to a calculation by Lepsius these 
plates have a surface lo by 5| sq. in., a thickness of about ro-hi., 
and a weight of about 4 pounds each. In India, too, lead was used for 
a variety of purposes, sometimes medicinally, sometimes for keeping 
the threads taut in weaving, sometimes for preparing cosmetics, and so 
forth. The Romans exploited the lead works of Spain. At the time of 
Titus no less than 40,000 slaves were occupied in working them. In the 
Greek lead mines there were also as many as 20,000 slaves at certain times. 
Among the Greeks and the 
Romans lead was used for 
a great variety of purposes. 

It served to fix clamps 
into stones, for making 
water-pipes, as an ingredi- 
ent of alloys used to make 
coins, for medical purposes, 
to prepare lids for medical 
boxes, to cast small statues 
and children's toys,^ to 
prepare plummets (sound- 
ing-lines for ships), for 
sling-bullets [glans missilis, 
lit. an acorn that is to be 
hurled) for purposes of 
war, and, indeed, even for 
making false dice. Fur- 
thermore, it was used for making numerous implements — incidentally, 
a dangerous practice, particularly when it was applied to making 
domestic utensils and vessels. The physiologist Robert has proved 
that lead-poisoning was already widely prevalent among the ancients, 
and, indeed, that the many childless marriages of the Romans at the 
time of the Empire are largely to be traced back to the action of foods 
and drinks which had become tainted with lead owing to their having 
been preserved in leaden vessels. This produced chronic lead-poison- 
ing and consequently sterility. 

The extraction of lead in ancient times was effected by processes of 
which no account has been transmitted to us. But it is immediately 
clear to anyone who is at all conversant with the metallurgy of lead that 
the processes must have been practically the same as that described 
above for the extraction of silver from galena (lead sulphide) . The galena 
was roasted and then reduced by smelting in furnaces, for which purpose 

J Lead soldiers were used by the Spartans as early as in the sixth century 
before Christ ; they were made of pure lead, according to Rhousopoulos. 

Fig. 14. — Relief Decorations in head on a Roman 
Coffin. Provincial Museum, Treves 


meAls and their extraction 

green wood or charcoal (or both) was used. Green wood was used 
because it developed large quantities of smoke and gases, which were 
thought to exert a favourable influence. Probably beUows were used to 
produce stronger currents of air. The slag and the lead were drawn off 
and separated mechanically. The crude lead obtained was again smelted. 
The slag still contained a fair percentage of lead, a fact of which the ancients 
became aware later and which led to its being collected from the dumps 
at Laurion, as reported by Strabo, and subjected to smelting over 
again. It is probable that lead-ores free from silver also served for the 
extraction of lead. The process of roasting was not always necessary ; 
it could be dispensed with, for example, when the galena contained oxides 
of lead. Whether this was actually recognized or whether the ores w^ere 
always roasted remains uncertain. An ancient Roman lead furnace 
which has been discovered was found to be sunk right into the ground. 
It was about ii ft. deep and 8| ft. wide at the top. The walls, which 
were made of a fire-proof mixture of brick-dust and clay, were 5-| in. 
thick. The crude lead flowed out of a drain situated at the bottom 
into a large shallow recipient, from which the slag was scooped off, while 
the lead was run off into smaller crucibles to be re-smelted or separated 
from the contained silver, 


The importance of iron in ancient times was somewhat overshadowed 
among many peoples by that of other metals, such as copper and 
lead. Although iron may be fairly easily prepared, as it is only 
necessary to produce the comparatively low temperature of 700° C., 
the most ancient iron implements were probably meteorites. It has 
been doubted whether the hardness of meteoric iron did not prevent 
its being worked; it is not at all necessary to imagine that a need 
for proper chisels or similar tools was felt, for a meteoric stone 
manipulated by hand constitutes a good hammer. Moreover, it can 
be sharpened on a stone, and so forth. Various ancient terms, such 
as the ancient Egyptian name baaenepe, ‘ gift of heaven,' and the 
Greek term aidrjQog, lend support to the view that meteoric iron 
once had a certain importance. At any rate, it is certain that in the 
form of meteoric stones it was known to the ancients ; meteoric iron 
has been found in prehistoric tombs. There are even indications that 
the ancient Egyptians made use of such iron. In May, 1837, J. R. Hill 
discovered in a stone rabbet of the great pyramid of Gizeh a piece of 
iron which must have been placed there during the fourth dynasty, that 
is, a little after the year 2700 b.c. This piece of iron contains nickel, 
a circumstance which would favour the view that it is meteoric iron, 
were it not that it also contains carbon in chemical combination. This 
find at least proves that iron was known to the Egyptians at that time. 
This is corroborated by a later discovery at Abydos by Fhnders Petrie. 

We have definite information about the length of time iron was 
known to the ancient Indians. An iron industry existed in India probably 



in the year 2500 b.c. and certainly in 1500 b.c. The very fact that the 
Sanskrit word ajas is undoubtedly related to the old Gothic a /s, which 
later led to the German Eisen, justifies the assumption that the Indo- 
Germanic races must have been familiar with iron before they separated 
(1500 B.C.). C. R. von Schwarz has found in the Province of Rewah in 
Central India great heaps of cinder and slag covering many square miles, 
testifying to the very flourishing state to which the iron industry must 
once have attained in ancient India. At the same time specimens of 
worked iron have been discovered of enormous dimensions ; this is the 
more wonderful as even nowadays, in the age of the steam-hammer, 
pieces of this size can be produced only in the largest workshops. 

Such colossal pieces of iron could never be worked in the small furnaces 
in use in India at the present time. The greatest rehc of ancient Indian 
iron work still left to us is the Kutub column near Delhi. It weighs 
more than 17 tons and is composed of almost chemically pure iron, as 
has been shown by analysis. Its height is 23 ft. above the ground, 
and it is probably formed of very many blocks that have been forged 
together. Nevertheless it nowhere exhibits a seam which would betray 
I welding. An inscription which has been cut into the column indicates 
1 that it was completed in the ninth century b.c. 

It is very remarkable that, in spite of the long time that the column 
has been standing, it has up to the present exhibited no sign of rust, 
This was formerly ascribed to a layer of fat which was supposed to have 
been smeared over the whole length of the column, which is estimated 
at 52 feet, for it is sunk far into the ground. This view is unlikely, as 
such a layer of fat would certainly have been washed off in the course of 
centuries. Others ascribe the absence of rust to the dryness of the air. 
It is much more probable, however, that it is due to the extraordinary 
purity of the iron. Analysis, such as that of Percy, has proved its high 
degree of purity. In 1891 the present author, in conjunction with 
Professor von Klobukow, prepared a sample of chemically pure .iron by 
electrolysis in the Electrochemical Laboratory of the Technical High 
School at Munich. All efforts to make this sample rust failed. 
Chemically pure iron does not, then, possess the property of rusting ; 
this has since been confirmed by others. The fact that the ancients 
knew how to manufacture iron that has not rusted up to the present 
time receives further support from finds made in a quite different locality. 
In Oseberg an old Viking ship was found, whose wooden parts were 
fastened together by iron nails which are still bright and beautifully 
preserved. This ship, which is now preserved in the National Museum 
in Oslo, was examined by Gustafson, who could not, however, ascertain 
the reason for the absence of rust. This was found — ^by a special 
commission, appointed later for the purpose — to be due to the purity 
of the iron. For the rest, it must be remarked that means of pre- 
venting rust were also known to the ancients. Discoveries made at the 
Roman fort of Saalburg, near Bad Homburg and Frankfort-on-the- 
Main, prove that in the time of the Romans vivianite (a mineral containing 
iron phosphate) was used as a protection against rust, and Pliny mentions 


a whole series of similar substances, such as minium (red lead), white 
lead, gypsum, bitumen and liquid tar. 

Fig. 15. — Prehistoric Blast-furnace (Belgium) 

H is the interior, lined with clay, in which the smelting is effected, and into which the wind blows through the canal 
lined with stones. A bellows was not used. The stone brim C keeps the flames convergent 

Besides wrought-iron, cast-iron was also known in India 3,000 years 

ago. Tombs of about the 

• r ' ^ 

‘ 3- 'iu East besides the Indians, and 

was used for making articles 
’^^•4'': /|H|P of the most varied kind. 

The Egyptian king Thothmes 
m y^-v brought back from his 

campaigns great quantities 
'i 4 spears and other 

4, weapons, etc. But these are 

a)”V proofs of the high 

reached by the iron 
■ industry in Asia. A more 

powerful indication is given 

exported in great quantities 
to other countries. Once 
again it was the enterprising 
Phoenicians who had chief 
control of the iron trade. 

Fig. 16. — Prehistoric Pit Furnace (Fpernay, Marne) 
The furnace has been dug out of the base of a hill, lined with clay, 
and after having been filled with the ore, covered with loam or 
mud. Ignition was effected through the holes punctured in the 
clay, which also caused a draught of air 



It is also very probable that the earliest iron in Germania was im- 
ported from Asia. The appearance and the composition of iron of the 

year 900 B.c. leads to this conclusion. Later on, iron production was 
introduced into Germania itself and was by no means uncommon. In 
the same way, the Greeks and the Romans probably became acquainted 

commerce before they began . ‘ \ { 

to prepare it themselves. ” >' 

we trace the causes of this 
phenomenon we find that 
they arise from the follow- 
ing circumstances. It has 
already been shown above 
what an important position 
was occupied by copper 

during the whole of anti- • 

quity. To reduce copper-ores a temperature of 1,100 C. is necessary. 
This is probably the highest temperature attained by the ancients 
in their metallurgical processes. The construction of all the furnaces 

Fig. i 8.— Bloomery Pot from Lower Lusatia 
Consisting of a hole made in the earth, into which slag was melted; this 
formed the wall of the pot, an aperture for blowing being loft at the 
top and another for drawing off the molten product at the bottom 


that are known to be of that time leads us to infer that, in spite of the 
general use of beUows later, no higher temperatures were reached. Now, 
pig-iron is produced where iron which has been reduced and is poor in 
carbon takes up more carbon from the added aUoy and from the gases 
present in the furnace at a temperature of 1,225° C. On cooling, this 

Fig. 19.-— 'Roman Bloomeries from Hiittenberg in. Carinthia 
The less deep pit probably served for roasting the ore, the deeper one, lined with clay, for the actual blooniery process 

carbon partly separates out as graphite and partly forms a carbide. As 
the temperature of 1,225° C. could not be reached, no pig-iron could be 
manufactured. The reduction of iron-ore occurs at 700° C. The product 
that is obtained at this temperature is wrought-iron or steel. Whether 

the one or the other was 
formed probably depended 
in the main on chance. At 
any rate the use of the 
same ores and the same 
fuel in the same furnaces 
would probably have led to 
a product of uniform com- 
position. A proof of the 
correctness of this view is 
again given by the column 
of Kutub. It is hardly 
possible that masses of iron 
greater than 55 lbs. were smelted at one and the same time in 
the ancient Indian furnaces used to supply the iron for the column. 
As the latter weighs about 17 tons it must be formed of a great number 
of smaller pieces welded together. Nevertheless, it exhibits a uniform 
composition throughout, which has suggested to some investigators, for 
example, C, R, von Schwarz, the opinion that it must have been formed 

Fig. 20. — Prehistoric Iron Smelting Works at lolenze 
ill Carniola 

The clay nozzles are probably blast pipes, and the trough is probably 
inclined so as to allow the slag to flow away more easily 



of a single block. But nowhere have traces been found of constructions 
which would make the preparation of so vast a piece of iron in a single 
process in one furnace seem probable. 

In ancient times the smelting of 
iron from its ores was carried out by 
the process which we usually call 
direct extraction (Catalan method) 

Fig. 21. — A Corsican Bloomery 

Fig. 22 . — A Catalan Bloomery 

nowadays. We still find among savage races of the present day examples 
of the primitive method, for they use the same furnaces as were employed 

in the earliest times (Figs. 
15-18). A primitive fur- 
nace was used which often 
consisted of only a pit sunk 
into the ground, which was 
lined with fire-proof material 
such as clay or bricks or a 
mixture of both. The fur- 
nace was then fed with ore 
and fuel, the latter probably 
consisting almost entirely of 
charcoal. A wood-fire was 
probably used to start the fuel burning. The iron was in these cases left in 
the furnaces and removed when cold. More often, however, it was run off 
through a sloping groove at 
the bottom of the furnace. 

Later, the walls were 
made higher and bellows 
were added (Figs. 20-23). 

The bellows that were used 
at the time of Thothmes 
III are known from the 
discoveries in Theban 
tombs. There is a picture 
of a sort of bloomefy which 
is kept in action by two 
bellows devices (Fig. 24). 

The ores lie in a pit ; over it is a mound with holes from vdiich the flames 
shoot forth. We must therefore imagine ore and charcoal to be added to 

Fig. 24. — A supposed Bloomery in ancient Egypt 


the top of the pile and to sink in gradually as the metal (in this case, gold) 
melted out. The bellows are leather skins, which are fastened to a frame 
to hold them in position. They are compressed by treading and are 
expanded by cords which are pulled upwards. A draught of air is intro- 
duced into the furnace by means of clay pipes. The picture also displays 
in the background a basket filled with wood-charcoal (Fig. 24). 

Generally, the iron flows out, as already mentioned, through the exit 

channel and collects in the 
form of ‘ bloom ’ on the 
floor of the receiving pit. 
The lumps of bloom, of 
which many are still found 
in deserted smelting works 
of the ancients, weigh from 
15 to 55 lbs. (Figs. 25 and 
26) . They were covered by 
slag, which flowed out 
simultaneously and which 
was either scooped off or 
knocked off when cold. The 
process of making iron and 
steel was always effected in 
one stage. According to 
Aristotle it is only in India 
that fused iron was first pre- 
pared and afterwards sub- 
jected to a fresh treatment. 

In general the extraction 
of iron seems not to have 
been improved upon in the 
course of time, if we dis- 
regard the increase of size 
and height of the furnaces, 
which gradually attained 
greater and greater dimen- 
sions, so that eventually, in- 
stead of the original simple 
Fig. 25.— Crude Bloom (i, 2. 3) and Worked Bloom hearths, there were proper 
rrom tire Excavations of Khorsabad Cupolas Or blast-furnaces. 

The holes in these lumps of crude bloom were to enable them to be ni-ir- Vmn-ti 

strimg up on ropes so as to be transportable by animals or men ^ ^0111 tuese OIU IlUge Smeir- 

ing-furnaces of the present 
day evolved (Fig. 27) . In isolated instances coke or lignite (browm coal) 
was used instead of charcoal to fire the furnaces, as, for example, am,ong 
the Chinese. Theophrastus also (fourth century b.c.) mentions that the 
metallurgists in Elis and Liguria made copious use of a coal which 
occurred there naturally. The masses of bloom extracted passed from 
the iron works into the hands of traders and were transformed only 
at their destination into weapons, tools, and so forth, by being re- 


smelted and re-forged. Certain kinds of iron were particularly popular 
among some peoples ; for example, the Romans had a special liking 
for iron from Elba and later for iron from the Noric provinces'^, 
after they had been conquered. The number of ancient iron 
works and iron relics 

discovered is extra- .'iocm- 

ordinarily great. In 
the burial-ground of 
Hallstatt several thou- 
sand specimens of iron 
have been found, and 
in the Jura Mountains 
alone over 230 iron 

pits have been dis- 26.— Re-forged Bloom in the Romano-Germanic 

covered. Museum at Mainz 


The other metals known to the ancients were of considerably less 
importance to them than those already discussed. Mercury was known 

to them, but was probably 
used only very little in the 
pure state. It was chiefly 
employed in the form of the 
sulphide, cinnabar, which 
served as a red pigment - 
It is also probable that it 
was applied in Spain to 
extract gold by making it 
form an amalgam with it. 
For both mercury and gold 
occur in Spain, and, further, 
Vitruvius relates that the 
gold from the garments 
which had been interwoven 
with gold thread could be 
recovered by reducing the 
garments to ash in a crucible 
and treating the ash with 
mercury, which took all the 
gold. A^en this amalgam 
was pressed through the 
pores of a cloth bag the 
gold remained behind. Like 
mercury, antimony and 
Fig. 27. — An Isolated Ancient Blast Furnace from arsenic were probably also 
Ore Deposits in Carinthia known only ill their sulphur 

H = hearUi. S = pit. WK = wind-canal (draught bole). COmpOUnds. Whether plati- 

28 metAls and their extraction 

niim as such was known to the ancients appears doubtful. It is disputed 
by von Lippmann. It may have been mistaken for silver in isolated 
instances and have been worked as such. Berthelot investigated a box, 
of Egyptian origin, ornamented with inscribed hieroglyphics, which 
belonged to Queen Shaperapit, the daughter of Psammetichus I in 
the seventh century b.c. He found that the inscription was made of 
platinum containing a fair percentage of iridium. As platinum was not 
known to occur in Africa, the metal was probably introduced from 
elsewhere. Berthelot assumes that it was washed out of Nile sand 
together with gold. 


N O use could be made of the metals in the state in which they 
were found in Nature or in which they were obtained metal- 
lurgically from their ores. They had therefore to be subjected 
to particular methods of treatment before jewellery, tools, household 
utensils and other articles of the most varied kind could be made from 
them. This treatment was sometimes mechanical, sometimes chemical. 
Whereas the mechanical process served the purpose of bringing the 
metal into a suitable form, the chemical treatment was applied to effect 
a change in appearance, particularly of the surface, or to join pieces of 
metal, as in the case of soldering, which depends on the formation of 

In both these methods of treatment, the mechanical and the chemical, 
the peoples of even the most remote antiquity possessed an extraordinary 
technique. They knew how to make use of the property of extensibility, 
especially of the precious metals, not only by increasing their surfaces 
through hammering and embossing, but also by forcing them to assume 
particular forms by the same means. The use of casting for producing 
new forms probably originated later. The oldest images, such as the 
statues of gods and so forth, were modelled in clay or carved in wood and 
then covered with thin gold foil. To make the pieces of foil adhere to the 
model and also to make them join up riveting and probably also welding 
was applied. Moreover, the gold foil was sometimes hammered into the 
model with the help of artificially made corners and edges — a method 
which has been found to occur among nearly all the most ancient 


Among metals gold possesses the property of ductility to a particu- 
larly marked degree. It is therefore not surprising that this property 
was early recognized and exploited. Gold-leaf, that is, gold which has 
been beaten out into thin sheets by continued hammering, occurs almost 
everywhere in prehistoric times. Such gold was used to make magnificent 
goldsmith's work even in the year 3500 b.c., as is proved by an ancient 
Egyptian necklace at present in the Berlin Museum. About the seune 
time objects of the most diverse description were covered with gold foil, 
and as early as 2600 b.c, proper gilding with the help of gold-leaf occurs 
in the Egyptian kingdom ; that is, the gold is no longer attached by 
riveting or welding, but use is made of its property of adhesion. For 
example, wood is covered with wax, on which the gold-leaf is laid and 




to which it then simply adlieres. In the case of objects of other material 
a layer of stucco is first applied. This is painted and the gold-leaf is 
then superposed on it, as in our modern method of gilding ceilings. 
The property of adhesion is also the basis of making gold-fillings in teeth ; 
gold-leaf is pressed or hammered into the tooth. It has been proved 
that this was practised by the ancients, and was universally adopted later. 
It is remarkable that this method of filling teeth was also prevalent 

Fig. 28. — The Workshop of a Goldsmith 
On the left is a gold-beater — Picture taken from a grave in Saqqarab (= Saccara) 

among the original Aztecs in Ecuador, where Saville, in pursuing 
researches under the auspices of Columbia University, discovered skulls, 
in some of which the teeth were filled with cement and in others with 
gold. The ancient Egyptians were able to beat out gold to leaf as thin 

as that made in the eighteenth Fig. 30.— Melting Metal in Egypt by means 
century of our era. Berthelot t i n t ° ^ r 

. j In the left top corner are implements which, according 

found from measurements that toTheohald, must be interpreted as the anvU, form, and 
, , , Y r j. hammering stone of a goldsmith. (Notice the frame, which 

such gold leaves of the twelfth consists of alternate layers of parchment and gold) 

and thirteenth dynasties (about 

2000-1800 B.c.) were only -ooi mm. thick (about qTibTnnr O-f an inch). 
Silver, like gold, was also hammered out to thin sheets ("OOi to *0025 mm.). 

TOat method was used by the ancient Egj^tians and other ancient 
peoples to make such thin gold leaves ? Pictures from a grave at Saqqarah 
(Fig. 28), which date hack to about 2500 b.c., and others from the tomb 
of the Egyptian dignitary Rekhmara (about 1450 B.c.) (Fig. 29), must 
be interpreted, according to Theobald, as representing the goldsmith’s 
art (see also Fig. 30) . On a stone, which also serves as anvil, the so-called 

In the left top corner are implements which, according 
to Theobald, must be interpreted as the anvil, form and 
hammering stone of a goldsmith. (Notice the frame, which 
consists of alternate layers of parchment and gold) 


‘ form/ in this case a pile consisting of alternate layers of gold-leaf and 
pieces of skin, is placed. The gold-beater holds this form with his left hand 
and manipulates with his right the heavy stone with which he strikes 
the form. The method is thus identical with that still used in the gold- 
smith’s workshop, except that the stone is now replated by a hammer ; 
and whereas nowadays the pile of gold-leaf and skins which constitute 
the form is made fairly high, it was at that time kept low and consisted 
only of a few layers. We do not know what kinds of skins were used. 
It is hardly likely that the ancients used the same skin as the modern 

Fig, 32.—- Roman Gold-beater, probably pre- 
paring an Ingot 
(Museum of the Vatican) 

gold-beater, namely, that prepared 
from a bullock’s ciecum. Maspero 
holds the opinion that parchment 
was used, that is, asses’ skin. This 
view is shared by Wilkinson.^ 

The preparation of the gold-foil to be hammered into leaf is nowadays 
carried out by casting the gold into ingots, that is, into oblong masses, 
which are then rolled out into long narrow thin plates. The metal was 
probably prepared in a similar way by the ancient Egyptians. Con- 
cerning the casting and the apparatus involved there are still preserved 
pictures which we shall discuss in detail later when we come to the section 
oil * Casting in Metal’, p, 54. 

1 'The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, London, 1878, Vol. II, p. 3- 

Fig. 3 1. —Colossal Bronze 
Statue of Hercules which has 
been entirely gilt by being 
covered with gold-leaf. Roman 

(Rome, Museum of the Vatican) 


As we find either relics of gold-leaf or reports of its use among all 
peoples of antiquity, those of the Near East, the Jews, the Indians and 
so forth, it must be assumed that it was prepared in the same way as by 
the Egyptians, owing to the trade relationships of that time and to the 
fact that many technical arts were thus disseminated from race to race. 
Many peoples that used gold-leaf may also have drawn their supplies 
from foreign countries. The Chinese, whose civilization is largely based 

on the apphcations of 
paper, probably used thin 
sheets of black paper in 
place of parchment. 

Gold-leaf was very 
widely distributed among 
the Greeks and the 
Romans. The former used 
it even in the age of 
Homer, that is, probably 
about 850-800 B.c. The 
‘ form ' was not composed 
of gold leaves and skin, 
but probably of alternate 
layers of gold sheets and 
copper foil. For about 
A.D. 75 Dioscorides writes 
(V, 91) that to prepare 
copper vitriol it was also 
possible to use the filings 
from the copper leaves 
between which gold-leaf 
was beaten [Kmibayp alg 
nEQiexo fj,eva ra 

TtaraXa eXavvami). Both 
the Greeks and the 
Romans had various terms 
for gold plates and gold- 
leaves. The Rom a n s 

wrong, for the counterpart pieces are missing, as also the funnel, and USed different namCS, aC- 
the canals, air-pipes, etc. Moreover, the form resembles those used for 

embossing up till recent times, and the objects depicted in these forms COrCling tO tne tlllClineSS 
were always produced by embossing. The picture is two-thirds of the gOld-lcaf Pliny 

relates (XXXIII,’ 61) that 
from one ounce (30-59 grams) of gold it was possible to beat 750 and more 
leaves having a length of side equal to the width of four fingers (i digitus = 
•0185 metres, i.e. about -73 in.). Clarac (see below) assumes a value 
that differs only inappreciably from this. Thus the thinnest leaves 
were about rfU- mm. thick, or iTr-fflirff in. ; so that thej^ were about 
thirty times as thick as the best gold leaves made nowadays (which are 
less than g-„-Va- mm. thick). From experiments which Clarac had made 
to test Pliny’s statements, he arrived at the following remarkable table. 

Figs. 33 and 34. — Two Sides of a Granite Form used 
to emboss various Pieces of Jewellery 


giving a comparison between the goldsmith’s art in ancient Roman and 
in modern times. It must be remarked that the leaves of -oooiS mm. 
thickness represent a particularly good result not commonly achieved. ■ 

No. of Roman 
leaves from 
one Roman 

No. of Paris 
leaves from 
one Roman 

Length of 
side (in 

Area in 
sq. ems. 

Total surface 
of the leaves 
in square 

Weight of 
leaf in 

Thickness of 
leaf in 







54 -3904 







The hammer used by the Romans to beat the gold probably resembled 
the modern goldsmith’s hammer, although it is not definitely establisiied 
whether the only preserved picture of a gold-beater [anrifex hrattearins) 

■ on a relief in the Vatican (in which the second word is spelt brattiarius) 
represents the actual beating-out of the form (see Fig. 32, p. 31). It may 
represent the preliminary stage of preparing long narrow gold bands, the 
so-called ingots. As the modern gold-beater stands while hammering the 
gold and is probably only 
able in this position to 
strike the strong but elastic 
blow, which alone prevents 
the thin gold leaves from 
tearing, it .seems most im- 
probable to the author that 
the ancient goldsmiths, 
who also produced very fine 
leaves, performed this work 
while seated. Tn this pos- 
ture the strength and elas- 
ticity of the blows would 
be considerably reduced. 

Nor is the hammer in this 
picture being used to de- 
liver an elastic blow such 
as comes out quite clearly 
in the ancient Egyptian 
sketches, in which the gold- 
smith is shown kneeling.^ 

Be.sides gold and silver, other metals were also made into thin leaves 
by hammering, and at the same time often brought into a definite shape 
or embossed,'^ Plates were made, also useful articles and objects ol art. 
For making plates an anvil was used, on which the metal was hammered 

1 Concerning the use of the scraps left over from the hammering of gold and 
silver for th(' production of colours, see p. 193. 

Gk. T0Qevfi\ru from roQs^eiv, to bore; according to O. Midler, Nandhiich 
dey Archdolugie, it was a Greek invention. Lat. caelahira, 

' T.a.s.— 3 

hiG. 35. — Fragment of Limestone on which is a 
drawing representing Coppersmiths embossing a 

Found at Der el-Modiaa. Width ii eras. Berlin Museum, 
Egyptian Department 



out to the desired thinness. For embossing, forms or moulds of wood 
or stone (Figs. 33, 34 and 39) were used, over which the sheet of metal 
was superposed or into which it was laid and then hammered by a metal 

Fig. 37.— Embossing large Vessels 

111 the centre a lar!?e piece is apparently being emljossecl over a form. The author is of the opinion that the shape 
of the hanmier (round corners) shows that embossing is being performed. On the right the embossed articles are 
. probably being polished 

or thickened edges, as is also usual nowadays, in order that the metal 
may not be damaged by sharp edges (see Figs. 36 and 37). Difficulties 
were at first encountered in embossing large objects. Separate parts 

Fig. 36. — Attic Phiale representing the Process of Embossing in Bronze. 

Note the form of the hammer with its rounded and thickened ends. Berlin, Altes Museum, Antiquariurn 

or wooden hammer, depending on the metal composing the sheet, until 
it had acquired the form of the mould. The hammer often had rounded 

-The Sword of Tiberius 

It was found on. August lo, 18.(8, iu Muinz. Loiigth = 16 im'hc^ 
VicUh =“ a-8 inches 

Fig. 38.r 

An excclleul cxainpli' of Koinan embossing. 

during the further course of the work by being filled with pitch or, as 
Rhousopoulos has shown by analysis, wax. Faults in embossing, such 
as parts that have been hammered out too far, were corrected by using 
punches on which the too prominent or too deep parts could be hammered 
back. To prevent tearing in this process and to soften the blow the 
interior was in this case also filled with pitch. By this process the ancients 
produced vessels, fastenings, tripods, goblets, plates, statuettes and so 
forth, some of wliich were entirely made by embossing, whereas others 


were therefore embossed and afterwards riveted together. Later, how- 
ever, the ancients learned how to emboss whole vessels, pitchers, goblets 
and so forth, in one piece. A further advance in the art of metal-working 
was made by embossing metal by freehand, in which the form or mould 
was no longer used and which required a highly developed technique. 
A drawing was made, according to which the expert worker modelled the 
object by shaping the reverse side by means of hammers and other tools. 
The parts which have been embossed were then protected from injury 


Fig. 39. — Ancient Egyptian Embossing 

(Rome, Museum of the Vatican) 

For figures made of gold plate. Hard yellowish stone 
1-9 X 1-7 inch. Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

Fig. 40,— -Egyptian Embossing in Gold 

Winged figure in gold-leaf ; human-headed ‘ soul-giver 
Heights I '3 inch; breadth = 3 inches. Abusir el 
Meleq. Common Tomb of the Priests of Ansaphes. Berlin 
Museum, Egyptian Department 

Fig. 41. — Specimens of Roman Embossing 
in Gold 

and Ear-ring.) Berlin, Altes Museum, Anti- 

Fig. 42. — Embossed Diadem from Mycense. About 1600 b,c. 
Electrum) of 75 per cent, gold and 2.^-9 per cent, silver. Athens Museum (Catalog! 



were ornamented only with relief-w''ork. The metal most used besides 
the precious metals was copper and its derivative bronze. The bronzes 
of Siris in the British Museum show that in embossing this metal the 

Fig. 43, — An Embossed Gold Vase from Mycenae (about 1600 B.c.) 
Analysis revealed the presence of wax in the inner parts. Ath s M c ni (Catalogue No. 331) 

ancients succeeded in hammering it out to the thinness of paper. Emboss- 
ing was also performed on lead plates and sheets ; the latter were then 
used for various technical purposes, for example, for water-pipes, for 
sieves in drains, and so forth. 


The ancients had many uses for wire, especially for that made from 
the precious metals, which they formed into ornaments and used even to 
fasten loose teeth (according to Saville). Ancient Egyptian linds of 
about 3500 B.c. include copper wire, and there are many traces that 
indicate the use of wire in later times. There are still preserved wires from 
the sixth century a.d. as much as 5 feet long (Germanisches Museum, 
Nuremberg). At the time of the destruction of Pompeii (a.d. 79) wire 
cables were already in use. One of these found in Pompeii is 15 feet long 
and I inch in circumference. It consists of bronze wire in which three 
cables, each composed of 15 strands, are twisted round each other. Thus 
all sorts of metals were formed into wire, but only very little is knowm 
about how they were made. One method is described in the Bible 



-Gold Rosettes. Embossed Work (from a grave in Mycenae) 
About 1600 B.c, Athens Museum (Catalogue No. 590) 

objects have 

occurs : ' and they did 
beat the gold into thin 
plates, and cut it into 
wires, to work it . . . in 
the fine linen.’ Wire was 
further produced by ham- 
mering out metals and 
also by forging them. 
According to Schliemann 
{llion, Stadt und Land der 
Trojaner, p. 509) drawn 
wire was known even in 
the age of Homer, and it 
has also been found in 
various localities (among 
them Mycenae) in which 
made. No word has been 



passed down to us as to how this drawn wire was prepared, but we 
may assume that long pieces of wire, such as were used as long ago as 

Fig. 46. — Examples of Homan goldsmith’s work in gold wire and gold foil 

I. Bracelet made of gold-foil. 2 and 4, Chains composed of beads mads from gold-foil. 3. Chain woven from 
very fine gold wire no thicker than a hair. Berlin. AUes Museum, Aiitiquariurii 

2900 B.c. at Saqqarah, were made by welding together various forged 


Another form of metal-working that was much practised in antiquity 
was that of stamping, by which metallic sheets wnre not only given a 
definite form, but were also decorated by raising or lowering the surface 
according to design. Whether little pieces were also stamped out of the 
.sheets has not been proved, although the punch was already known in 
Mycenaean times and was used for producing ornamentation. Round 
metal discs were probably cut out with scissors or knives. Ornamenta- 
tions were stamped into caskets, into pieces of metal which were then 
sewn on to garments, and so forth ; this was carried out by placing the 
metal sheet on a lead anvil. The stamp-mould, which was made of 


harder . metal, that is, of bronze or even iron, 
was then placed on top. This die carried the 
ornamental pattern, which had usually been en- 
graved in it, but had in some cases perhaps been 
cut out by means of a grinding wheel. By a 
vigorous blow of the hammer the pattern on the 
die was impressed upon the metal sheet. Some- 
times this sheet was perhaps placed on the 
stamp, the engraved face of which was then 
upwards, and driven by hammering to follow 
the pattern of the die. Designs which were 
often repeated, such as ornaments on bowls, 
rims on goblets, and so forth, were mostly pro- 
duced by using the same die in succession. • 


Closely related to the stamping of sheet-metal was the stamping of 
solid metal, which was extensively used for coining money. Coins were 
very often, however, — particularly in Roman times — made by casting. 
We shall return to this method later, when dealing with metal-casting 
generally. Here we shall 
first discuss coinage, which 
owed its origin to a 
peculiar set of circum- 
stances . Met al was origin- 
ally not the only thing 
used for money. Very 
different objects were 
used, and in China as 
early as the year 2697 b.c, 
paper money is supposed 
to have been issued, which 
was prepared from the 
fibre of the mulberry-tree 
and was inscribed with the 
maxim : ‘ All that thou 

doest, do wdth caution." 

When metal began to be 
used as money, it was 
treated like merchandise, 
that is, it was weighed out 
for payment. This was 
done by the Jews before 
the Babylonian Captivity. In Egypt the money, which was in the 
form of rings made of precious metd, was weighed by means of scales 
of very appropriate design (see Figs. 48 and 49). Nor did the Greeks 
and Romans use coined money at the outset. As weighing wasted 

Fig. 48.^ — ^Weighing of Money Rings 

The man is observing whether the balance is equipoised. There is 
equilibrium when the three threads by which the little weight is 
suspended from the middle of the beam are all taut at once. If one 
thread is slack the scales are not balanced. i8th Dynasty (about 
1530 B.c.). From the tombs Abd el Guina, Thebes 

Fig. 47.— Punches for 
punching ornamentations 
in sheet-metal 


time the process was simplified by giving the precious metal the 
already mentioned form of rings or else of bars, which were designed to 
have a definite weight. On the basis of the money coined by so simple 
a process an extensive system of finance arose, as, for example, in Baby- 
lon. There was no guarantee, however, that the rings were made from 
metal of the correct degree of purity. A ring might have the correct 
weight and yet not contain the proper amount of gold. It occurred 
relatively late to the ancients to guarantee the weight and purity of 
content by stamping the rings or the bars (ingots). In Babylon and 
Egypt this method of marking had not come into use. The art of striking 
coins seems to have arisen about the year 700 b.c., and according to 
recent research (H. Halke) Herodotus was probably right in asserting 
that ‘ they (the Lydians) 
were, so far as we know, 
the first to stamp and use 
gold and silver coins ’ 

(Herodotus I, 94). The 
coins were egg-shaped and 
exhibited on one side a 
number of parallel stripes ; 
on the other there were 
irregular dents. They were 
macle ■ of ‘ electrum’, the 
alloy of gold and silver 
which has been mentioned 
above (p. ii), and which 
in this case contained these 
metals in the proportion 
3:1. It was only later 
that pictures were stamped 
on the coins (heads of 
animals, figures of gods, 

and finally of the rulers Attached to the beam is a pointer directed vertically downwards 
of the COUntrV in ClUeS- and carrying a plummet that is evidently to coincide with a point 

A " ' marked on the support 

tion) . 

Coins were struck by a sort of improved process of stamping. A die 
was used in which the design to be impressed was engraved. The dies 
were made of hardened bronze, but very often also of iron. They do 
not seem to have been very durable, since from one and the same mint 
in the course of a very short time, often only a year, coins were sent out 
with constantly changing designs owing to the use of new dies. There 
must have been an enormous variety of types in antiquity. Of all these 
dies, however, only two Greek and a number of Roman examples have 
come down to us. Moreover, numismatists do not regard the latter dies 
as genuine. They are considered to be dies used by forgers for making 
counterfeit coins. A further die, only recently found in Egypt (Fig. 50) 
dates back to the time 430-322 B.c., that is, to the time of the Persian 
kings, and shows that coins were then already being struck in Egypt. 

Fig. 49. — Another Egyptian Balance, of different 


This die is made of bronze, being over 2 in. high and weighing about 
lb. ; it has the form of two truncated pyramids of unequal height, 
placed base to base. The lower pyramid, wdiich carries the design, is the 
one of less altitude. An investigation by Zenghelis disclosed that the 
die was of the same and colour throughout. Apparent thicken- 
ings are due to the action of a hammer and the resistance of what was 
below it. Analysis of the metal contained in this die showed that the 
original composition of the alloy was 75 parts by weight of copper and 
25 parts by weight of tin. The usual tin-copper alloy contains 90 parts 
of copper to 10 parts of tin. Among the hundreds of analyses carried out 
by Zenghelis only one other case of this unusually high percentage of tin 
(nearly twice as much as usual) was discovered ; this was an Egyptian 
spear-point, that is, an object which likewise demanded great hardness 
together with considerable density. But the die had also to be suffi- 
ciently soft to allow the picture which was to be stamped on the coin, the 
owd of the Athenian tetradrachni,^ to be engraved in it. The fact that 
this particular alloy was chosen as hav- 
ing all these properties simultaneously 
and that it contains no trace of any 
foreign metal that might have affected 
these properties shows how clearly the 
influence of chemical composition on 
physical pi'operties w^as recognized even 
at that time. 

The coins of Greece and Rome — 
in particular those of the earlier times 
— are technically very imperfect. The 
greatest importance appears always to 
have been attached to giving as artistic 
a reproduction as possible of the picture 
in the die. Famous engravers of dies, 
such as the Greek Euainetos, inscribed their names on the dies of their own 
making. The metal for the die was not carved in the form of round discs 
out of ingots, as is usual wdth us, but rather each piece was cast separately 
and forms were used which could be opened out, like those nowadays used 
in mints to prepare metallic bars. As the stamping caused the coin to 
flatten or hollow out in the middle, and as the reliefs of some of the dies 
were rather prominent, the piece of metal to be stamped was often cast 
in the form of a lens slightly convex on each side. The edge of this piece 
of metal, which was usually not milled, in some cases still exhibits 
traces of the seam due to casting and the orifice for admitting the molten 
metal. The oldest serrated coins, serrata, which had toothed edges 
like a saw, first occurred about 190 b.c. and were very popular among 

’ The telradrachm (4 drachmae) was the famous Athenian stater or standard 
piece. vSce pp. 1 7 and 1 8 of the second edition of A Guide to the Exhibition illustrating 
Greek and Roman Life, issued by the British Museum, which contains excellent 
examples of the coins mentioned in the text. A perusal of this Guide is much to 
be recommended. — •H.L. B. ■« 

sigttt = b eras, (about 3-4 j 
grms.' (about | lb.) 



% -v 

-Ancient Coins bearing Traces of the Process of Coining 
to Dr. Cahn, Frankfort-on-the-Main. Sec Key at the foot of the followinj; page 


the Germanic tribes (Tacitus) . In order to keep the coin in position whilst 
being stamped (this was at first done only on one side) a square serrated 


block was fixed on the anvil so that the blow of the hammer on the die 
forced the coin to be gripped firmly by the edges of the block and so to 
be marked by it. On old Greek coins 
one can still see the marks of this 
block, that projected from the anvil. 
Later on, the ancients made a virtue 
of necessity and gave the block any 
convenient form. As shown in the 
accompanying Fig. 51 this form was 
very often that of a square, either 
simple or marked with lines [quadratum 
incusum). This fulfilled technical re- 
quirements best. It effectively coun- 
teracted any pressure due to displace- 
ment, no matter in what direction it 
was exerted. When marked with lines, 
this block held the coin in a particu- 
larly firm grip, as any unsteady ten- 
dency was then checked at various 
points simultaneously. 

Letters were also cut into the 
Hephaistos (wall painting in Pompeii) block SO that it served as a SOrt of 

counter- die or mould {matrix). From 
it there later developed the proper counterpart piece, (joins were prob- 

Key to F.'g. 51, p. 43. 

1. Archaic Tetradrachm from Acanthus in Macedonia with a simple quadrahtm 

incusum ; sixth century b.c. 

2. Drachma from Aegina with Tortoise and simple lined ‘ quadratum incusum ' ; 

fifth century. 

3. Archaic Stater from Corinth with the head of Athena in the quadratum incusum ; 

fifth century. 

4. Archaic Didrachm from Caulonia in South Italy, about 550 b.c., on which the 

picture on the obverse side is repeated on the reverse side. Of great 
technical interest. 

5. Tetradrachm of Queen Philistis of Syracuse, 275 b.c. ; the golden age of making 

dies for coins ; high relief. 

6. Tetradrachm of the Province of Macedonia while under Roman rule after 

148 B.c. Example of late Greek die-cutting. 

7. Early Romano -C£impanian double denarius, about 250 b.c., bearing tlie legend 

' Roma ’ indented. 

8. Didrachm from Hyria in Campania stamped with a faulty die. 

9. Denarius of Julius Caesar, in which the impress overlaps the edge, owing to the 

die not having been centrally placed. 

10. Denarius of the Gens Pumponia, about 100 B.c., with crenated (notched) edge 

(so-called ‘ Serratus ’). 

11. Didrachm from Metapontum (Lucania), impressed on too small a piece. 

12. Cast Roman Triens (= -J- As — 4 Unciae), with the hole of the casting form 

left as an excrescence ; from the heavy copper coins issued by the city of 
Rome, fourth century b.c. 

13. Ovally cast Sextans ( - | As == 6 Unciae) from the scries of heavy Umbrian 

copper coins. The excrescences due to the casting holes have been clipped 
I .off. ,, 


ably always struck from the cold metal, although it has often been 
assumed that it was placed hot on the anvil and held with tongs. 
Several powerful blows on the die executed presumably by means of 
a heavy hammer constituted the actual process of coining. The relief 
mostly appears quite prominent, but, even as late as in Imperial Roman 
times, the impress is very often not in the middle. It is displaced 
towards the edge, sometimes it is indistinct, showing clearly that the 
die had not been accurately in position or had not been firmly fixed 
or that the coin itself had shifted, or else that in order to improve a 
bad impress a second had been attempted on top of the first. It is not 
improbable that large coins were first cast in a form or mould, which 
already contained the relief ; the latter was made by taking a lead 
cast of the die and impressing this cast on the form. This relief, obtained 
by casting in the latter mould, was then placed in contact with the die 
and the somewhat blurred cast relief was brought out more distinctly 
by hammering. 

Fig. 51 shows a number of other ancient coins in which characteristic 
features of the art of coining are recognizable. 

Even before coins were struck, medals appear to have been made by 
the same process. In the Berlin Museum there is a gold medal which is 
probably of the time of the legendary Queen Semiramis, the daughter- 
in-law of Shalmana.ssar III (860-826 B.c,). Although the execution of 
this medal is primitive, it is of high artistic merit. 

Besides the above processes of working metals mechanically, chasing 
was also practised (see Fig. 52, p. 44). As in the case of engraving, it 
was performed with instruments that are essentially similar to those 
nowadays in use. 


The joining up of several pieces of metal to form a single large piece 
was effected, as already mentioned above, by riveting or by using clamps. 
It is not known when these methods were supplanted by the more inti- 
mate union obtained by soldering. Glaucus of Chios is regarded by .some 
as the inventor of soldering, or at any rate he was apparently so con.sidered 
by the ancients. Actually, however, the arts of .soldering and welding 
were both known before the time of Glaucus, who lived around the year 
700 B.c. ‘ Soldering ’ we take as meaning the union of two pieces of the 
same or different metal by means of fire and the use of a third metal, the 
so-called ‘ solder ’. ‘ Welding ’ is likewise effected by fire, but without 

the use of a third metal. Welded pieces which date back to the year 
1490 B.c. were found among the excavations at Thebes (Wilkin.son,^ II, 
258). Further, there is in the British Museum an Egyptian rattle of 
Pharaonic date, which is soldered with lead. Its exact date could not be 
ascertained, but it is at any rate older , than the objects reputed to have 
been constructed by Glaucus. Moreover, Schliemann has excavated gold 
vessels which have also been soldered, but in this case with gold solder. 
From these and various other finds it is quite clear that soldering and 
^ See reference on p. 31. 



welding are very ancient arts. It has emerged from investigation, par- 
ticularly of the silver objects found at Hildesheim, which are of the time 
of the Julian Emperors, that hard soldering and soft soldering were 
already both, in use. Soft solder consists of tin or a tin-alloy and is 
easily fusible. Hard solder is a copper alloy, mostly of the composition 
of bronze or brass. To what extent these two kinds of solder were used 
in Pliny’s time cannot be discerned from his writings as (according to 
Bliimner) he gives only a vague account of the art of soldering (XXXIII, 
94). He says : ‘For gold, " chrysocolla ” is used ; for iron, alumina ; 
for large pieces of copper, calamine ; for copper sheets, alum ; for lead 
with marble, resin, with which also lead is joined to tin ; for tin with tin, 
oil ; and the same for the union of crude lead with bronze or crude lead with 
silver.’ It is impossible to follow Pliny’s meaning, as he jumbles up the 
solders with the other agents used to exclude the air from the joint during 
soldering in order to prevent oxidation of the metal surfaces. All that we 
can gather is that among such agents, according to Pliny, there were 
alumina, alum, and oil. Lead cannot be soldered with marble at' all. 
Resin probably served both as a protective agent, in the above sense, for 
lead solderings as well as for filling up holes 
made in marble by pouring in lead. The 
latter process was often used to fasten bronze 
or iron clamps in marble. ‘ Chrysocolla ’ is 
. malachite, that is, a basic copper carbonate, 
having the formula CuC03.Cu(0H) 2, which 
was probably not used directly as a solder 
but indirectly as a constituent of gold sol- 
der, the preparation of which is described in 
Figs. 53 and 54.---Roman Blow- detail by both Dioscorides (v. 92) and Pliny. 

FoMdS’SteS ta Fraice Verdigris is mixed with a boy’s urine in 
a copper mortar. Soda is then added. 
Probably malachite, that is, chrysocolla, which has a composition re- 
sembling that of verdigris, could be used in place of the latter. 

Verdigris is a basic copper acetate having the composition 
Cu(C2H:j02)2-2Cu( 0H)2; it decomposes under the influence of heat in 
the same way as malachite, so that pure molten copper is finally pro- 
duced, which effects the join. Thus, in both cases carbon dioxide or 
carbon monoxide is given off among other gases or vapours, and they 
protect the surfaces from, oxidation. 

'Pile use of calamine as a solder, as alleged by Pliny, is perhaps ex- 
plained by the fact that in a coal fire this compound of zinc and carbonic 
acid is reduced to pure zinc, which formed brass with the copper that was 
to be soldered, and so a hard solder was produced. A favourite and 
much used solder was lead, and also its alloy with tin. Pure tin was 
further used to solder the precious metals (as in the silver objects dis- 
covered at Hildesheim). 

The actual process of soldering probably hardly differed at all from 
the modern method. The blow-pipe which served to concentrate the 
flame was probably already known to the ancient Egyptians. It is 



certain that the Roman goldsmiths used it and also the soldering iron 
(Figs. 53 and 54) . For combining metals with other materials, there were 
used (apart from the process involving lead and resin above mentioned), 
cements whose composition is not yet wholly explained. Thus, in a 
tomb at Mycenae Rhousopoulus found rosettes of gold which had been 
fastened to the wooden cover of the coffin by means of a cement con- 
taining manganese. Other cements, also containing manganese, have 
been found elsewhere, so that there are grounds for believing that some 
manganese ore, probably pyroliisite, was a common constituent of such 
cements in ancient Greece. 


In ancient times, just as nowadays, the forging of metals occupied a 
prominent position among the metallic arts. For even in antiquity the 
smith furnished a great portion of the implements necessary for agricul- 
ture, technical work, and for the household as well as for purposes con- 
nected with transport and war. The metal most used for forging at 
that time was bronze ; pure copper was also used. Father Scheil 
discovered in Susa a smith’s bill for bronze weapons, which was inscribed 
on terra-cotta and dated back to the thirtieth century b.c. Later, 
iron formed the basis of the smith’s art. Whether and to what extent 
bronze and copper were actually forged in the true sense, that is, were 
worked after they had been softened by being heated in a fire, must 
remain an open question. The methods of working metals when cold 
and forging them when hot were probably both used at the same period ; 
at any rate the following passage in the eighteenth book of the Iliad 
which deals with the making of Achilles’ armour by Hephaistos, allows 
us to infer that bronze was in this case worked in both the hot and the 
cold state and was provided vuth external ornaments or artistically 
stamped : 

‘ This said, he left her there, and forth did to his bellows go. 

Apposed them to the fire again, commanding them to blow. 

Through twenty holes made to his hearth at once blew twenty pair, 

That fired his coals, .sometimes with soft, .sometimes with vehement air. 

As he will’d, and his work reejuir’d. Amidst the flame he cast 
Tin, silver, precious gold, and brass; and in the stock he plac’d 
A mighty anvil ; his right hand a weighty hammer held, 

His left his tongs. And first he forged a .strong and spacious shield 
Adorn’d with twenty several hues, about whose verge he beat 
A ring, three-fold and radiant; and on the back he set 
A silver handle ; flve-fold were the equal lines he drew 
About the whole circumference : in which his hand did shew, 

Directed with a knowing mind, a rare variety, , . . 'A 

^ Chapman’s translation.— H. L, B. 



This description by Homer gives us important information about the 
art of forging in far-distant antiquity, and shows above all that, at that 
early time, in the main the tools used were the same as nowadays, namely 
the bellows, the anvil, the hammer and the tongs. Actually the bellows 
appears to have been one of the earliest contrivances used to work metals 
when hot, for it is represented in the paintings on the ancient Egyptian 
temple at Karnak (sixteenth century B.c.) and is also mentioned in the 
Bible, in which we read in Jeremiah vi. 29 : ‘ The bellows is burned.' 
The Romans also often refer to it, as for example Vergil, Georgies iv, 
170 foil., 

So the Cyclopes, when in haste they forge 
Jove’s thunderbolts, to melt the stubborn mass 
Some with their bellows of tough ox’s hide 
Drive in and out the blast ; the hissing bronze 
Others in water plunge, till Aetna groans 
Beneath their anvils’ weight. 

Similarly Cicero, de natura deorwn, i, 54, speaks of ‘ anvils and 

What was the appearance of the ancient bellows ? Old Egyptian 
pictures represent them as bags made of skin, probably from an ox, 
fastened into a frame to hold them fixed in position, and provided in 
front with a wind-channel, probably made of bamboo, which stretched 
nearly to the hearth. To prevent the bamboo from getting ignited a 
nozzle was placed over the end. The man who worked the bellows stood 
on two such bags, one foot, on each, and held in each hand a cord with 
which to pull it up and so distend it. While he pressed down on one bag 
he released his foot from the other and pulled it up by means of the 
corresponding cord. (See Fig. 55, and Fig. 24 on p. 25.) The fore- 
runner of the bellows was probably the common fan, which was used to 
make the fire glow more brightly. Further, in ancient Egypt, the 
fire was also stimulated by means of tubes blown by mouth (Fig. 28, 
p. 30). In later times, too, the bellows ' were made of animal skins 
sewm together into bags. Horace in his Satires (i, 4, 19) mentions that 
goatskins [folles hircini) were used. For larger bellows tanned oxen- 
skins {folles taurini) were used. The smaller bellows looked exactly 
like those we nowadays use in the home and work by hand, ’ They 
were furnished with a valve, and the frame was made from beech- 
wood, but probably also from other kinds of wood (Ausonins, 
Mosella, 268). Larger bellows were worked by means of a lever. 

The anvil which, like the hammer and tongs, is supposed, according 
to Pliny (VII, 195), to have been invented by Kinyras of Cyprus, appears 
in very different forms, as is shown by pictures that have been preserved 
and by actual finds. It consists either of one block, or of three blocks 
superposed on one another, or of a wooden base on which the iron anvil 
proper rests. In the latter case the anvil is fastened deep into the base 
by means of a long point. Further, the anvil was either square or 
circular in cross-section, either hollowed out conically, or made in the 


shape of a long horn, and in this case, it must be assumed that it was used 

to weld tubes, that is, as a 

so-called ‘ core An anvil G) 

of this kind was found on (72 WB 

the Saalburg, together with ^ A - . ^ / A M 

smaller ones intended for f f ij ] A v M 1 / 

finer work. The effective H If y-, L /{ L 

part of the anvil always 

consisted of iron. The \ l//\\ 

surface, the so-called ‘ face h . y/ iHMl// ll' V 

was hardened by tempering All, li 

(Pliny, XXXIV, 41 ) . There 

is not much to be said 

about the hammers and /' h '<•«) yj 

the tongs. They exactly / / \ ^ V M A 1 ( 

resembled the modern Jr^ U • . Jj I y 

forge-hammers and tongs :// y\ fl\\ 

and were of very varied / / W it tUlfifkj . /Z_£IN v- 

form according to the pur- 

poses which they were to — ^ ^ 

serve. In Fig. 56 and the Fig. 55.— Egyptian Bellows 

following figures a num- 
ber of such hammers and tongs are shown. 

Forging itself, which consists in heating and working metal with the 
hammer, was carried out in the' same way as nowadays. To us it seems 
curious that the smith (who is represented on the ancient Roman pictures 

I'’iG. 56. — Smith’s Tongs, two Anvils (on the left, third and fourth picture from the top), 
Hamincr-s, Files, Punches and other Tools of the Roman Smith. Provincial Museum 
' of- -Treves - . 

T.A.S.— 4 



that are still preserved as always wearing a beard, whereas his assistants 
are clean-shaven) appears to have done much of his work in a sitting 
posture. At any rate the representations just mentioned show him in 
many cases sitting in front of the fire manipulating the hammer. In 

other pictures the smith 
proper is standing while 
his assistant (Eros), who 
holds the piece to be 
worked, is seated. These 
sketches thus give us 
reasonable grounds for 
concluding that the forg- 
ing of smaller objects 
which required no par- 
ticular effort was carried 
out in the sitting posture, 
whereas larger pieces of 
metal were worked in the 
standing posture. The 
tempering of the glowing 
iron, that is, plunging 
it suddenly into cold 
water to harden it, is mentioned very early, even by Homer [Odyssey, IX, 
391) ; ‘ And as when a smith dips an axe or adze in chill water with a 
great hissing, when he would temper it— -for hereby anon comes the 
strength of iron . . ^ 

Actually, the hardening that was 
produced by plunging the hot iron 
into water was ascribed to mysterious 
agencies. Moreover, some water was 
regarded as better suited to tempering 
than other, a view that may have been 
based on the fact of the different tem- 
perature of the waters. Water drawn 
from a very cold stream and used 
immediately for tempering would pro- 
duce harder and more brittle steel than 
water from, a warmer source, such as a 
stagnant pool. But it could hardly 
have escaped notice that the colder 
water, when left unused in the smithy 
for a time, so that it gradually acquired a higher temperature, produced 
the different grades of tempering just mentioned. Besides water, various 
other liquids were used for tempering, such as the blood of he-goats (Pliny, 
XXVIII, 148) ; boys' urine, that of red-headed boys being particularly 
valued, a,nd so forth. Their action may be attributed to the presence 
of carbon, for they all yield charcoal on being heated. This becomes 
1 Bu teller and Lang, English Prose Translation, Macmillan & Co.. London. 

Fig. 57. — Greek Smithy depicted on an Attic Vase 
dating from the sixth century b.c., found in Orvieto 

On the left is the hearth ; above are forged objects and tools, a pitcher 
and a sword. Boston, Fine Arts Museum 


dissolved in the iron and acts as so-called tempering carbon. Oil was also 
used, as nowadays, for tempering finer tools and the like. Since oil gives 
only a mild hardness and since Hippocrates and others specifically mention 
that tempering in oil was to serve the purpose of avoiding fissures and 

This and Fiff. 6o are taken from a tombstone of the ^ recognize the various 'forms of kilives 
Galeria lapidaria in the Vatican obtained by forging processes 

fractures, this clearly refers to tempering for the purpose of covering the 
surface of a hard piece of steel with a very thin but somewhat softer 
layer which is less brittle and so prevents the metal from cracking and 
breaking. Treating steel by heating it with colouring matters, which 
has assumed such importance latterly, does not seem to have been 

Fig. 61. — A Common Smith Fig, 62. — .Roman Smiths 

On the left a bellows is apparently beina' worked; an 
assistant is seated on tlie handle. Tombstone in the 
Laterau Museum 

known to the ancients. ' On the other hand, the ancients knew how to 
weld steel points and steel blades on to weapons and tools made of 

For the further treatment of forged metal the smithy was equipped 
with all the appliances that we still meet with in modern workshops, 
such as grindstones, which w’ere probably not different from those of the 



present day and like them were set in rotation by means of a treadle. 
The stones used came from Crete and Laconia. Oil was used with them; 
whereas other grindstones (possibly emery from Naxos) were moistened 
with water. Files were used, but relatively less than nowadays. A 
pointed four-edged file of ancient Roman origin has been dug up in 
Aliso. To smooth the pieces of forged metal Samian earth and he- 
goaCs blood was chiefly used, besides the less common file. 

Like the process of forging itself, the objects obtained by it in many 
ways resembled our own — so closely, in fact, that very often only the 
locality has made it possible to decide whether a horseshoe was of recent 

with anvil, hammer, tongs and piece Fig. 65. — A Grindstone (authenticity not estab- 
of metal lished) 

Tombstone in the Museum of Sens 

or of ancient Roman make. The existence of ancient horseshoes is, 
indeed, disputed by some authorities (Schlieben) on grounds that carry 
a certain amount of conviction, whereas others (for example, Schaaf- 
hausen) support the opposite view. To the author the presence of great 
quantities of such horseshoes in certain ancient Roman settlements seems 
conclusive evidence that they were actually used, and were indeed made 
by mass-production in some parts (see below). The horseshoe was 
developed from the solea ferrea, the so-called ‘ hippo-sandal which was 
also forged from iron, but it is not yet certain whether it did not serve 
as a protection for horses with afflicted hoofs. From the finds made at 
Saalburg, Jacobi distinguishes three kinds, of which the oldest are rather 



roughly made and lie in the lowest layers. The strength of the horse- 
shoes was improved in the course of time, but it is difficult to derive 

Fig. 66. — ^Various pieces of ancient Roman Forged Metal 

accurate information on account of the wear to which they have been 
subjected. The horseshoe in our illus- 
tration belongs to the latest kind and 
gives the most developed form. This 
type of horseshoe is strongly made, 

4 to 4| in. wide and 5 to 5I in, long. 

They contain six to eight holes for 
nails (nowadays seven, three on one 
arm and four on the other), which lie in 
a groove. In the front there is a thick- 
ened excrescence, the ‘ grip ’ ; this was 
probably first introduced because 
horses in climbing mountains wore off 
this part of the shoe soonest. Further, 
we also see ‘sponges', that is, the 
two ends are bent back. The weight 
of the shoes varies within wide limits. 

The lightest that have been discovered 
weigh about a quarter of a pound, the 
heaviest nearly a pound. The various marks found on many of them 
.suggest that they were manufactured in factories. 

•Ancient Roman Horse.shoe 




The zenith of metal-working in antiquity was reached in casting, 
which was carried out with various metals such as lead, probably also 
tin, copper and certainly bronze. It has been affirmed on various sides 
that cast-iron was in use, but this has not been proved. The most perfect 
works of art were done in bronze-casting, the beginning of which is lost 
in the grey dawn of tinie. Some features indicate that it may have 
originated in India, where, as we know, the art of working metals was 
highly developed at a very early period. It is clear that, at first, only solid 
casts were made, in which the cast is composed throughout of metal and 
is consequently not only heavy but requires a considerable quantity of 
metal. How solid casting was practised in Egypt is shown in an old 

Fig. 68. — -Mould and Counterpart (or Cast) as used in casting a Relief 
Deutsches Museum, Munich 

picture of 1600 b.c., which came from a temple at Karnak and depicts 
the casting of a bronze door of a temple. The mould rests on the ground 
and consists of two open boxes that are filled with sand (presumably 
wet). Slaves carry on their shoulders bags containing this sand and 
empty it into the foundry. The model, previously prepared, possibly of 
wood, is pressed into the sand, one half into that of one box and the 
other half into that of the other box. The sand is then allowed to dry 
in the air and the two boxes are placed together to form a closed com- 
partment, which is provided at the top with numerous apertures into 
which funnel-shaped head pieces are inserted. These serve to allow the 
molten metal to be run in and also the air to escape when it is displaced 
from the hollow mould during the filling. The metal is melted in casting 
crucibles which are held fast between two rods and thus brought to the 
mouths of the funnels (see Fig. 55 and Fig. 69). Tongs such as are now- 
adays used to grip the crucibles appear not to have been known-. The 


axrangement of rods resembles the frame carrier which is nowadays 
employed in transporting casting crucibles. By inclining the crucible the 
metal is poured out as a glowing stream into the funnel so as to fill the 
mould, where it is left to cool. The halves of the casting-box are then 
separated and the finished cast is disclosed to view. The two temple 
doors (perhaps also their models) are represented at the top of Fig. 6g. 
We also clearly discern, above and below, the hinges on which they are to 
turn. The workmen beside them, to judge from the tongs and blow pipes 
they are carrying, appear to have the duty of attending to the fire under 
the casting crucibles. 

Solid casting was later superseded by hollow casting which, however, 
like the former appears not to have been known to the Greeks of mytho- 

Fig. 69. — Casting a Temple-door in ancient Egypt 

logical times and of the immediately succeeding epochs ; for when Homer 
describes how the equipment of his heroes was made, he mentions only 
forged work, never casts. It seems that implements, weapons and similar 
articles, which were later made by forging, were in very early times made 
by some other process. To cite only one example, in making excavations 
at the acropolis of Susa, the old capital of the Persian kings, Morgan found a 
javelin which had been made not by casting but by tightly twisting up a 
bronze plate, about an eighth of an inch thick, which had been previously 
prepared by being hammered. The direction of the cracks in it proved 
l^eyond doubt that it had been made in this way. It is probable that 
the two Samians, Rhoikos and Theodoros,^ did not, as the Greeks assert, 
actually invent bronze-casting, but introduced it about 650 b.g. from 
Asia Minor into Greece. Little moulds made of stone and of an early 
date have, indeed, been found — for example, by Schliemann in his 
Mycenaean excavations — and have been regarded as casting-moulds, but 
probably they arc only forms that were used for embossing. Neverthe- 
less, stone, moulds have actually been used for making solid casts, as is 
^Cf. Seyffert, Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (Sonnenschein). 


proved by various prehistoric finds (Fig. 73). 
the advantage that they did not have to be 
broken after the cast had solidified but could 
be used over and over again. Rhoikos and 
Theodoros, even at that early period, produced 
works of large dimensions ; they applied the 
process known as cire perdue, a method of 

Fig. 70. — Egyptian Hand- 
Mirror of bronze, cast in 
two pieces 

The two pieces (handle and mirror) 
were drilled after casting, and were 
riveted together. The niirror itself 
is gilt. On the reverse side papyrus 
umbels are engraved, Length 
13 in, Berlin Museum, Egyptian 

Fig. 71. — Solid Egyptian 
Cast, of precious metal ; gold 
handle in the form of a 
wild ox (fixed to a silver 

The folds in the neck are cast, 
those on the body are engraved. 
Length 4i in. Berlin Museum, 
Egyptian Section 

Such moulds possessed 

Fig. 72 . — Egyptian Hollow 
Cast. Bronze figure of 
Buto, with a lion’s head, 
and the sun’s disc, sitting 
on a throne. Eyes of gold. 
Marked with engravings 

Height 30 in. From Sais. 
Berlin Museum, Egyptian Section 

casting which predominated subsequently. Even in very old Egyp- 

tian bronze work there 

is unmistakable evidence 

mndel ' prepared frorn 

that the finer details had 
not been added to the 
cast later. Traces of fin- 
ishing off with a chisel 
or a file are to be found 
only at the points at which the metal was run in and at points where 

-Prehistoric Stone Moulds for mi 
casts of simple objects (Chisels) 
Deutsches Museum, Munich 


there were faults. The cast is an extremely thin shell, so that there 
must have been a nucleus or core which nearly filled out the mould 
and which left only very little space between it and the inner side of 
the mould. This narrow space was then filled with metal. As an 
example of how thin the ancients could make their casts we may 
quote the ‘ Praying Boy ’ in the Berlin Museum ; this cast can be com- 
fortably carried by one man. A stature of Hera ^ found in 1834 Vulci 
and now in the Munich Glyptothek, weighs barely 100 lbs. (see Fig. 77) 
although it is nearly 6 ft. high ; a modern bronze statue of the same size 
would weigh nearly ten times as much. Some parts of it are so thin that 
they give the impre.ssion of having been embossed ; closer investigation, 

X^'ra. 74. — Egyptian Bronzes, solid and hollow casts 
German Museum, Munich 

however, sliows that this is not the case. Statues of this kind were 
mostly cast in several parts which were afterwards joined together so 
skilfully that the joins defy detection. 

The cast was produced in the following manner. First, a nucleus of 
clay, brick-dust and similar powdery substances was prepared, which 
was smaller than the cast to be made by an amount equal to the thick- 
ness desired for the shell of the cast. This nucleus was enveloped in a 
layer of wax which the artist used as a model. Pie very carefully shaped 
and kneaded the wax with his wooden modelling implements (which 
resemble those still in use) and so prepared the original of the casts to 

^ This supposed ' Hera ’ is, in the light of recent arcliEcological research, now 
called ‘ Tlie Spinner 


be made. He next took thin metal tacks and pressed or hammered 
them through the wax layer into the nuclear form. Their purpose was to 
keep the casting form, the ‘ mantle at a correct distance from the 
nucleus after the wax had been melted out. The inner surface of this 
form therefore necessarily coincided with the outer surface of the wax. 
Further, at various points in the wax layer wax rods were erected as verti- 
cally as possible, which reached above the highest point of the wax model, 
most of them uniting at the top in a central drum above the figure proper. 

Figs. 75 and 76. — Greek Casting Workshop 

Above on the left is the furnace, the upper opening of which is covered with a stone (?) which perhaps served to regulate 
the heat. In front is the opening for admitting fuel. Behind is an assistant, apparently working the bellows. Above 
on the right is an open mould from which the cast is being removed. Below is the centrehn a finished cast (of a warrior) 
in a wooden frame ; the cast is being chiselled and finished off. On the walls there "are drawings, hammers, saws, 
parts of casts (feet), chiselling tools, and so forth. There are also assistants and onlookers. U.keii from an Attic red- 
figured vase. First third of the fifth century b.C. Berlin, Altes Museum, Antiquarium 

The whole was then carefully covered with very fine clay or a mixture of 
clay and brick-dust ; this was in turn covered with thick loam which, 
was in some cases surrounded by masonry or held together by iron 
bands (like the masonry itself), ’^^en the loam had dried the wax was 
removed by being melted, so that the hollow form was created into which 
the metal was to be run. The wax-rods previously erected were also 
melted away ; in their place channels arose through molten bronze 
was run into the hollow mould. The wax drum served as a funnel for 



the incoming bronze. A few channels that did not join at the top but 
were left free allowed the air that was displaced 
by metal to escape into the open (air-holes). IFT ^ 

After the metal had become cold the cover- ^ ; 

ing (mantle) was cracked off and the cast was f' ■ 
detached from the nuclear form, or the latter ; 
was shattered to pieces if the shape of the cast ^ i 

made this necessary. The projections due to the 
presence of the canals were then chiselled off and ’ j 

filed, and all other unevennesses on the surface I 

were smoothed off. The cast was then complete. ^ "1 

The Romans made casts in the same way, Ik 
employing for preference the method of hollow 
casts with ‘break moulds’^ just described, but « 

they also practised solid casting in the case of f 

smaller articles. As particularly beautiful ex- >1 

amples of ancient Greek and Roman solid casting, !' 1 

and, indeed, of metal work of any kind, we must | 

mention their mirrors, which are flat disks of r 
bronze, one side of which is highly polished, the 'j. 

other being attractively engraved and orna- ^ 
mented ; the mirror itself is mounted on an 
artistic handle. Later mirrors were also covered 
with a thin surface of silver ; or the bronze plate 
was cemented on to a base, and in some instances, or^'^Tte^Spin^ 

to prevent scratching, was enclosed in a sort of ^ ' ner ’ 
case provided with a lid which moved on a hinge. 

One branch of casting 

clay was .then. ulried and 
l-iG. 78.— The Wolf, with Romulus and Remus glowccl^ out slightly in a 

Etruscan Brozize (hollow cast). Capitoline Museunz, Hoizze fire. illB tWO disCS, Cach 

of which now bore the 
impress of a face of the coin, had previously been made to fit exactly 
and were provided above with a triangular incision which served for 
1 1.e. used for one cast only. 


pouring in the metal. After the firing, they were placed together ; 
usually, to save labour, a whole set of such coin moulds was made and 
was enveloped in loam to prevent 
^ them from shifting their position dur- 

‘ / ing the casting. The metal was next 

poured in. On cooling, the moulds 
- ^ were taken apart and 'the base coin 

' ' ' J finished ofi by removing the peak 

caused by the aperture of the mould ; 
this was done by polishing the rim and 
other parts (Figs. 83-86). 

mSiMB Even before the development of 

' Greek and Roman art in bronze this same 
nf flourished in the north among the 

jH • ‘ barbarians ’, reaching its zenith in the 

. iw so-called La-Tene period, which began 

'■ '* 3-hout 400 B.c. It was, however, at the 

If ^ same time supplanted by iron, which 

l # coming into use. Although 

Figs. 79-81. — Specimens of Hollow Casting 
Berlin Museum, Antiquarium 

bronze-work among the northern races refers to prehistoric dis- 
coveries, the consideration of which is not within the scope of this 



book, we must mention that the vessels made at that time, of which 
some are very beautiful, were first modelled in loam which was plastered 
on the nuclear form. The mantle was fitted over the loam and was cut 
when it was to be removed. The cut mantle was joined together later 

Fig. 82. — Greek Folding Mirror with a 
soldered hinge, which also serves as a handle, 
and with a movable ring at the bottom 
■fastened by hooks through holes. The 
design represents Skylla. Fourth to third 
century b.c. 

Berlin Museum, Antiquarium 

Figs. 83 and 84. — The two halves of a 
Roman coiner's Casting Moulds, made of 
slightly burnt clay. At the top is the 
aperture for admitting the molten metal 
Natural size. Collection of Dr. Cahii, Frankfort-oii- 

Figs. 85 and 86.— Two halves of a Roman 
coiner’s Mould with the triangular aperture 
at the top for admitting molten metal. 
Burnt clay. Very sharp impress 
Natural size. Collectiou of Dr. Calm, Frankfort-on- 

and supported in loam during the process of casting. The loam model 
surrounding the nuclear form could now be detached from the latter, 
which could not, of course, be simply melted out like wax. The cast- 
ing wa.s done, just as described above, by allowing the metal to run 
into the space between the nuclear form and the mantle. 


To the above arts of treating metals mechanically with or without 
the help of lire must be added the chemical treatment of metals which 
aimed in the first place at conferring a certain lustre on metallic objects. 
This was accomplished either naturahy, that is, by mixing the metals 
in a perfectly definite way, especially in the case of alloys, in order to 
arrive at a desired tint, or else artificially, by colouring the metal. 

Examples of the first method are ‘ electrum ‘ Corinthian brass’, 
bronze, and so forth, whose colours coujd varied by suitably adjusting 



the relative amounts of the constituents of these alloys. Thus, three sorts 
of ‘ Corinthian brass a species of bronze, were known; it was also pro- 
duced in a whitish and golden-yellow colour, this being effected, it is 
alleged, by adding more gold or silver to the copper or bronze. Such 
bronzes, containing silver and gold, were indeed considered to be of a 
particularly fine colour. Liver-coloured bronzes {xa?iKdg i^natL^cjov) 
also occur. Metals were coloured artificially by various processes. 
Silver surfaces were given a golden colour by smearing them with orpi- 
ment (arsenic trisulphide, AsgSs) ; copper surfaces were silvered by 
rubbing them with quicksilver (mercury). Gold coins containing high 
percentages of base metal were given a gold surface by being heated to 
a dull red glow with a mixture of common salt, dehydrated iron sulphate 
and brick-dust. The silver chloride produced melts and fuses with the 
brick-dust so that the surface of the coin acquires the appearance of pure 
gold. Among these processes we must also include the true processes 

Fig. 87. — Roman Niello 

Silver goblet with branches of ivy in niello ; from silver finds made in Hildesheim. Berlin, Altes Museum, Antiquarium 

of gilding and silvering, namely by means of gold- and silver-leaf ^ ; 
further, hot gilding with the help of gold amalgam, which was early 
known, as it is described by various Roman writers (Vitruvius, VII, 8, 4 ; 
Isidore, Origg. XVI, 19, 2 ; Pliny, XXXIII, 64). Their descriptions show 
that it was practised exactly as is still done nowadays ; and lastly, tin- 
plating, already known in prehistoric times, which was effected by dipping 
objects in molten tin and which was so skilfully done by the Gauls, for 
instance, that tin-plated objects could not be distinguished from silver 
ones. The Egyptians dipped the bronzes that came out of the casting 
moulds, while still hot, in molten resin which tinted the surface to the 
desired shade. The Egyptians were likewise acquainted with the method 
of colouring silver black, that is, with producing ‘ niello According to 
Pliny (XXXIII, 131) they accomplished this by melting together equal 
parts of silver, copper and sulphur (slightly in excess). Several of these 
Egyptian objects decorated with niello are known ; for example, a vase 
found in Hungary, a very finely nielloed silver plate of Egyptian origin, 
1 See pp. 29, et seq. 


now in Corinth, a clasp in the Imperial cabinet of coins and antiquities in 
Vienna ; this clasp exhibits decorations exquisitely engraved in gold and 
filled in with a niello-like mass ; there are also other specimens. 

Egyptian niello, the age of which is estimated at 3,000 years, consists 
of compact layers which contain some enclosed stiffening substance, 
whereas Roman niello consists usually only of thin strata. It appears 

Figs. 8S-91.— Roman Filigree 

Ivar-i'iiigj, oniaiiicntal buttons, liliula' (broodies), and so forth, partly chased and ornamented with gold wire that lias 
been soldered on. Berlin, Altes Museum, Antiquariuni 

that the oldest Egyptian niello was worked on gold alone and that it was 
only later produced on silver. 

The Romans made niello by melting together silver, copper, and lead 
with sulphur. After the mass, now become black owing to the production 
of silver sulphide, had been reduced to a fine powder, the latter was mixed 
with borax and melted over glowing coals on to the previously engraved 



silver and gold. After cleaning and polishing, the metallic foundation 
appears, the depressions in the surface being coloured black by the niello. 

A prescription by Pliny for making niello runs : 3 parts of silver, i part of 
copper, and 3 parts of sulphur (see Fig. 87). 


Following on the above-described processes for treating metals we 
give several others which cannot be fitted into the scheme we have 
adopted but which likewise played an important part in antiquity. We 
are referring to the technical arts which chiefly fall within the range of 
the goldsmith, who was, indeed, a man of great experience and dexterity 
in various technical branches ; he practised almost all the methods already 
mentioned of working metals. He knew how to chase metals, how^ to 
make alloys, how to colour metals ; he cast smaller objects in precious 
metals in special furnaces, and so forth. . To these must be added 
certain other technical accomplishments, such as chryselephantine work 
(that is, overlaying with gold and ivory). This technique was also 
practised by sculptors. It consists in covering individual parts of statues, 
in particular the flesh parts, with ivory, the rest being covered with richly 
enamelled gold. In the first place, it is now a lost art to join ivory 
plates without leaving traces or the joins and without the differences of 
external temperature giving rise to cracks owing to the resultant change 



Fig. 93. — Roman Enamel-work 

Bronzes with variously rolnured enamel. Second and fourth ornamental button from the left in the top row are blue and 
while, the other objects are in widely different colour.s ; tlv third button from the left in the top row contains almost 
all colours. Provincial Museum at Treves 

of dimensions. Next, they softened and 
known how this was done. Lastly, 

A further accomplishment pecu- 
liar to the goldsmith was filigree 
work (Figs. 88-gi, p. 63) which was 
probably common in Egypt and be- 
came transplanted into Greece ; later 
the Romans carried it over into 
Germania, where, however, it never 
flourished particularly. Filigree 
work consists in soldering gold 
threads on to ornaments made of 
precious metal ; in this way very 
delicate ■ creations are often pro- 

Enamelling was also used for 
ornamenting jewellery (Figs. 92-94). 

Nowadays we regard Egypt as the 
origin of the art of enamelling, although some have claimed that it is 
Persia, which was certainly acquainted with the art at a very early date. 
The enamel for precious metals was produced in the same way as that for 

T..^.S .—5 


Cellular anamcl 

The chain, dcpiclMl below, is made of gold plate and is 
divided into cells by the gold wire that has been sol- 
dered on {Filigree) ; these t ells arc partly filled with 
stones and partly with enamel. (Some cells have now 
lost their filling-i,) Berlin, Allcs Museum, .>Vuti(iuarium 


or into its cells is to keep its position, 
the contractions and expansions due 
to variations of temperature must 
be the same for the enamel as for 
the metal. In physical terms, they 
must have the same coefficient of 
expansion. As soon as the one con- 
tracts or expands more than the 
other the enamel will either become 
loose and finally fall out, or it will 

1 The assumption made by Man {Pompeii in Leben and Kunsi igoo) th.a.t ‘ the 
one workman is holding himself as far away as possible so as not to be struck by 
flying sparks', can hardly be correct, as gold in antiquity, as nowadays, was 
certainly always beaten while cold and not, like iron, while hot. 

llfl ■ 

■af §>• 




clay objects, and there is no chemical 
difference (see also the sections on 
‘ Glass’ and ‘ Pottery ’ below). The 
preparation of enamel is a branch of 
the ancient technical arts which 
suffered from various imperfections ; 
these could be eliminated only later 
as the knowledge of physics and 
chemistry grew. If, for example, 
the enamel that is melted on metal 

Fig. 95. — Egyptian Inlaid Work 
Bronze Figure of the Goddess Neith. On her head is the 
erown of Lower Egypt ; collar, eyes and crown are inlaid 
with gold. Height 6 in. Berlin Museum, Egyptian 


become so compressed by the contracting metal that it will fracture or 
split . I f glasses of various colours are employed, their melting-points must 
either be the same or else lie close together. Otherwise the one glass 
will be melted before the others have even begun to get viscous. And 
if the temperature is raised to the melting-point of the coloured glass 
that melts least readily, it is very often so high that those glasses which 
melt more easily become changed, losing their colour or decomposing, 
or becoming dull, and so forth. Whereas nowadays we can successfully 
deal with all these factors and, in particular cases, interpose a special 
layer of enamel, the so-called ' counter-enamel’, which counterbalances 
any difference of expansion that might be present, the ancients were 
helpless in the face of these difficult problems. Consequently there are 
relatively few well-preserved specimens of enamel work of those times, and 
in most cases the layer of enamel has been forced out or has fallen out of 
the cells. 

Lastly we must consider inlay work. Inlaid objects occur at the 
eaidiest period of history. AsvSyrian bronze plates with inlaid silver 
ornaments are known, also an inlaid disc from Epirus, bronze appliances 
from Pompeii, and so forth. In Frankish and Alemannic tombs inlaid 
objects are found particularly often. Inlaying was performed in one of 
two ways. Either the metal to be ornamented was roughened with a 
roughening hammer (scraper) and the roughened surface was covered with 
a thin layer of gold and silver which easily adhered ; or the metal (in this 
case usually iron) was split to a certain depth and the other metal was 
inserted into the opening so made and the whole was then again subjected 
to the forging hammer probably in the cold state. 



W OOD was one of the earliest of the raw materials that served the 
purposes of the arts and crafts of antiquity. It need only be 
recollected that the habitations and their individual parts, such 
as the pillars, consisted mostly of wood before the time when they were 
replaced by stone. The wood was at first collected wherever it was found, 
particularly in the neighbourhood of where it was to be used. When it 
did not offer itself in the form of' floating trunks, broken branches and so 
forth, it had to be obtained by felling trees. 
For this purpose fire was perhaps used in the 
remotest times, which was lit round about the 
trunk until it was so far charred that it fell of 
its own accord ; later on, however, special 
appliances were used. As late as Homer’s 
time, about 850-800 B.c., the Greeks still used 
stone axes 1 to fell trees and chop off branches, 
which, as Schliemann rightly points out, must 
have been a very laborious undertaking. The 
little saws of silex and chalcedony from the ex- 
cavations of Troy were often only a few inches 
long and were probably used to saw up bones, 
perhaps also to smooth the surface of wood, 
which was necessary as it was not possible to 
cleave directly through a tree by means of 
stone axes. Consequently the resulting boards 
were rather uneven. The Egyptians, on the 
other hand, early made use of bronze im- 
plements for felling trees. They used both axes 
and pointed saws, the latter probably being 
used for subordinate purposes. On the other 
hand, for dividing up the felled trunk into 
boards the saw played an important part. These boards were made 
in the following way in ancient Egypt. A stake was stuck vertically 
into the ground. The trunk to be sawn was tied on to this stake and 
was also fixed in a vertical position. Sawing was then commenced 
vertically downwards and was continued until ropes could be used to 
prevent the sawn parts pressing together and jamming the saw (Fig. 104, 
p. 71) . The most commonly used saw had straight teeth and did not have 

1 A blunder ; iron or bronze axes 'W'erc used, see Iliad IV, 485 ; XXIII, 118. — 
Tran '. 

Fig. 97.—- Assyrian Wood- 

Their equipment, consisting of a 
cross-cut saw, hatchet and props 
(■which Layard interprets as spades), 
leads us to conclude that they are 
on the way to felling trees. The 
form of the ‘ spades ' seems uncom- 
mon ; we can imagine these being 
used only perhaps to dig out roots. 
They are more likely props which 
were placed alternately under the 
tree, as the latter began to lean over, 
so as to let it down gently without 
injuring neighbouring : trees. Bas- 
relief in Knjimdchik 



its teeth, set cross- wise like those of our day, that is, the teeth were not bent 
outwards first to one side and then to the other alternately, the purpose of 
which is to prevent the blade from getting stuck. 

Hence with the straight teeth, ropes which enabled 
the parts of the trunk to be held asunder were a 
useful adjunct in some circumstances. If the indi- 
vidual parts got loose, which made sawing difficult. 

Fig. 9S. — Roman Double-axe 

Wi til a broiizo covering consisting of three parts. The lateral parts (see also 
Figs. 100 and loi) can be opened outwards. Hooks serve to attach the 

Fig. gg.— Covering of Fig. 102.— Part of the 
a Roman Axe Cover of a Roman Axe 

they were also bound with ropes 
until the trunk was sawn right 
through. The plane was not 
known to the ancient Egyptians; 
in its place they used a kind of 
adze, with which they smoothed 
the surface of the wood. It must 
be remarked that the axes used by 
the Egyptians to fell trees had no 
hole into which to fasten the 
handle ; they w^ere bound to the 
latter by cords. The Romans 
felled trees in much the same way 
as we do, namely, by chopping 
notches out of the trunk with 
axes, until the tree could be pulled 
down with ropes. The wood- 
cutter of the present time usu- 
ally guards himself against acci- 
dents by surrounding the edge of 
his tool with wooden guards which 
also serve to protect the edge. Similar devices were known to the Romans. 



Figs, roo and 101.- Roman Hatchet- 

■ "knife ■■■" 

With a strong b,ick anti two edges (a long one opposite, 
the back and a short one at the front end) .so that it cotild 
servo both as a chopper and as a light hatchet. The 
hatchet has a bronze cover in three parts, which fits 
closely. The two long parts arc connected wdth the 
third, which protects the sliort edge, by pins an<l can be 
opened out. The handles, which are not shown, were 
riveted oxi, as is evident from tlip rivet-holes and pins. 
The objects represented in Figs. 98-102 were found in 
the Rhine at the Bleiaue near’ Mainz. Museum at 
.. . " ■ Mainz ^ 



An iron donble-axe found in the Rhine has around its wide edge a cover- 
ing or sheath of bronze, consisting of three parts ; the two on the side can 
be opened out. They are provided with hooks at their ends in which no 
doubt straps were fastened ; these could be tied round the sheath to keep 
it in position. The marks of these straps are still easily recognizable on the 
blade. Individual parts of such axe-sheaths have also been found. The 
axes have a hole through which handles could be fixed ; their form seems 
to indicate that they were used for felling trees. Another tool, the 
hatchet-knife, which had also a sheath or covering, was probably used for 
sharpening stakes that were to be thrust into the ground, or for making 
fascines, and so forth. Strong rivets are still preserved on the short thick 
tang to which the solid handle was fixed (Figs. 100 and loi). These axes 
and hatchets were very serviceable. In the Taunus (Germany), for 
example, where no soft fir-wood was available at the time of the Romans, 
sturdy oaks had to be felled which were then cut into beams no less 
than 45 ft. long by means of a chip-axe ; such beams were used to 
fortify the banks of the Main at Stockstadt. Even in the early times of 
Theophrastus (390 to 300 b.c.) the Greeks had discovered the fact that it 
is by no means a matter of indifference what season of the year is chosen 
to fell trees. For Theophrastus {Hist. Plant. V, i, etseq.) states that in the 
case of trees which are not to be lopped but only to be peeled it is best to 
fell them when they are full of sap, as the rind can then be more easily 
detached. On the other hand, the trees that are to be lopped are best 
felled when the fruits are ripe. Theophrastus formulates the following 
rule giving the best times for felling trees of various sorts : the silver-fir, 
fir and pine in the spring ; the holm-oak, the elm, the maple, the manna- 
ash, the beech and the linden-tree in the early autumn ; the oak, however, 
at the beginning of the winter. 


The trees just enumerated at the same time give us a survey of the 
various kinds of wood most in use among the Greeks. We must add 
that the Egyptians used, first and foremost, the Nile acacia (locust tree), 
which was difficult to treat on account of its twisted fibre ; they also 
used the sycamore, the date-palm, the dum-palm, several Syrian conifers, 
and the ebony tree. The Romans and Greeks used besides these the oak, 
the box-tree, the alder, the silver-fir, the cedar, the willow and a number 
of other less common woods. This gives us a general idea of the kinds 
of wood used in antiquity. Among them several, for example, ebony, 
were chiefly applied to making articles of luxury, whereas others, like the 
willow and the alder, were used for wicker-work. The cedar was valued 
as a building material. For the rest, the principle of procuring the 
wood from the nearest source was generally followed. For example, 
the cedar which occurs so often in the south as a building material is met 
with but seldom in the Roman provinces that lay north of the Alps, 
where its use was regarded as a luxury. 




At the time of the ancient Egyptians, even as far back as 3500 b.c., 
carpenters and joiners used bronze axes for wood- working, the heads being 

Fig. 103.-— Wood-working in Egypt 

(Upper row, left to right) : i. Working with a chisel and a hatchet, whose head is tied to a bent wooden handle fadye 
2. Bench with inlay-work. _ 3. Planing. The man uses a piece of metal to test whS the 

planed smooth. Adjacent is an adze, which serves as a plane, stuck into a block of wood ; the curved surface is fastened 
MSP nT leather. We also see a set-square and a stand in which the rectangular g^i as fti the 

^ IS stuck, serves as a rest for the pieces of wood that are to be worked (?) 
Above, a chest (?). (Bottom row) : 4. Smoothing a wooden pillar ; ancl 5. wooden coffins for mummies. Wall- 
paintings. Thebes. 

tied to the bronze handles by leather straps. They also used chisels, 
having the blade part fixed into a wooden handle, which was struck with 
a wooden hammer. The form of the chisels resembled our own As a 
plane they used a sort of adze the flat surface of which was fastened to a 
handle that was bent upwards. Wooden sur- 
faces could also be planed by means of a peculiar 
little hatchet, whose blade was shaped like a 
half-moon or was bent (Fig. 103, top row, on 
the right : the axe is wedged into a wooden 
block). The curved side served as the edge; 
the flat side was tied to the handle. By turn- 
ing this blade at right angles to the handle we 
get the adze, which was much used by the 

The most detailed investigations about the 
tools used ill ancient carpentry have without 
doubt been made by Bliimner, whom in the main we shall follow in our 
present account. 

The fact that only the pointed saw was used has already been men- 
tioned ; but, as our pictures show, it is often of considerable length and 

Fig, 104. — Egyptian Saw. 
A wood-cutter sawing 
through a vertical tree- 



provided with a handle at 
the end, which also seems 
to have carried a pad or a 
guard near the blade. For 
boring the so-called bow- 
drill was used, It was fixed 
in a wooden holder which 
ended in a block held in 
the left hand, so that the 
drill could be pressed into 
the piece of material to be 
bored. The end block and 
the holder were probably 
not in one piece. Rather, 
the wooden holder rested 
loosely in the block (see 
Fig. 107). The string of a 
bow was passed round the 
holder, so that by moving 
the bow back and forth the 
drill was made to turn (Fig. 
1 19). Borers were also 
used which were pressed 
against the chest. They 
were of similar form to the 
above and were manipu- 
lated by turning the hol- 
der by hand. The form of 
the drill-point itself is un- 
known. The older drills 
were probably in the shape 
of a nail with an edge. 
The drilling produced ■ no 
chips, but only drill-dust, which was expelled by reversing the direction of 
drilling. Later, the screw- 
auger became known ; the 
earliest picture of it occurs 
in an old manuscript copy of 
the poems of Hesiod, which 
dates back to the eighth or 
ninth century B.c.^ This 
drill has the form of a nail 
with rectangular cross-sec- 
tion which has had its ver- 
tex turned through four 
right angles on its own axis 

1 A curious con fusion between that date of Hesiod himself and tluit of the MS. Save 
for a few fragments, no MS. of Hesiod is olderthan the twelfth century A.u. — Trans, 

Fig,_ 108. — Egyptian Woodwork 
Wooden Toys (animal and pitchers with and without a lid). 
Berlin Museum, Egyptian Section 

Figs. 105-107. — -Mallet, two-bevelled Chisel and 

Drill (Egyptian or Coptic) 

To the drill there is to be added a hoI!owed-out piece of wood in 
which the thinned end of the holder turns. Berlin Museum, Egyp- 
tian Section 



while the other end has been held fixed, so that four helical edges, rather 
blunt, remain. This drill, too, leaves only dust, no chips. Stemes with 
a smooth face were used to polish the surface of the wood. 

Fig. loij. — Working with a Chisel at 
wooden statue of Mermes. Picture on a 
Athenian dish 
Cabinet ef Aiitiijiits, Copniili:iKC>u 

I'iGS. 1 10-112.— Roman Sa\ 
rramc-B!uv, pit-.saw aufi fret-saw 

113. — Roman Saw 
crossed teeth 

-Various type.s of Roman Drills 

Left to hiftlit : Two dcmble-ccli(<'il drills, front and side view ; 
ordinary drill, front and side view ; centre-bit. 

Museum, Zurich 

Fig. 115. — Roman Plane 
With a grip at an angle inclined to tlic direetiim in which 
it is puslied, and with holes for the shavings to fall 
through. On a marble tombstone at Kastatt 

In later times all of these car- 
penter’s tools were further im- 
proved. Their form approached 
the modern types more and more 
nearly. Among the Greeks and 
Romans axes of very varied con- 
struction appear, in which the 
handle is stuck through a hole, 
mostly so as to project beyond the 
other side. The chisel persisted in 
its original form. I'he saw was made 

Fig. 1 16. — Cupids as Catpentors 

On llie left, wooden folding doors, sau’ing-bcnch con- 
sistiug of a boar<l resting on two trestles ; resting on 
it is a board on the left in. the process of being sawn 
through (Rich here regards the blade of the saw as 
being in the middle, that is, a pit-saw ; Oberbeek, Hcl- 
big ,Blumner and others consider the blade as being at 
the bottom of the saw. Uie original is rather obliter- 
ated. On the right is a board fastened by a sort of 
screw-clamp. Below is a Iio-k:. To the right, above, is a 
drill (?) resting in a hole in a shelf (Bliinmer assumes 
this to be a vessel or a lamp). Wali-pajiiting in Hercu- 
■ kneuB! 



considerably handier. It is stretched in a curved frame, to which it 
is attached like the string to a bow. Then, it is held taut in a rectangular 
frame in such a way that it connects the mid-points of the two short side 
arms and runs parallel to the two long arms. The blade of the saw and 
its edge are either perpendicular or parallel to the plane of the frame. 
Finally our present form of saw also appeared, in which the blade of 
the saw is stretched by a cord. There are saws of this kind having 
sizes ranging from those of small hand-saws to those of large pit-saws. 
An ancient Roman saw in the Antiquarium at Zurich shows the crossing 




Figs, i 17-122. — Carpentry 

Fig. 117. — Sawing through a board which is, as usual, propped up against a bench. In sawing through long boards 
a second workman, who guided the saw, stood on the board. The board was supported not only by the bench, but also 
by a tree-trunk against which it rested. Fig. 118. — Smoothing a board with the smoothing hatchet (or splitting a 
board, which Bliimner also considers possible) . Fig, 119. — ^Boring a hole with a bow-drill. Fig. 120. — Hollowing out a 
board by means of a hammer and chisel. (Bliim ler assumes tliat the board is being split, but that could hardly be 
accomplished in this way.) Fig. 121.— Planing by means of a jack-plane. Fig. 122. — Trimming a piece of wood, 
which is to be carv'ed or used for some finer purpose, by means of a hatchet. (Bliimner assumes that finishing touches 
are being put to an object by means of a parer ; against this, however, there is the shape of the knife and the position 
of the arm, which seems rather to indicate rough chopping, that is, trimming.) Painted base of a glass vessel out of 
the Catacombs (Vatican Library) 

of the teeth (Fig. 113). Among the Greeks and the Romans, too, the 
borer was at first a bow-driU, a type that is early mentioned by Flomer 
{Odyssey, IX, 384) ; . . . while I from my place aloft turned it about, as 
when a man bores a ship's beam with a drill while his fellows below spin 
it with a strap, which they hold at either end, and the auger runs round 
continually.’ ^ 

1 Butcher and Lang, English Prose Translation, Macmillan & Co., London, 




A borer that became particularly important was that which, in the 
form of a Gallic drill, was used as a wimble-scoop. It had two edges, so 
that it could cut when turned in either direction. Since the borer was at 
that time worked by twisting the handle or by drawing a bow to and 
fro (Fig. 1 1 9), it was in both cases far more convenient to alternate the 
direction of the motion than to keep it unidirectional. In Zurich there 
is also a centre-bit which dates back to Roman times. 

The plane in general preserved its original form ; it had a spade- 
shaped blade sharpened in front, and was provided with a handle ; later 
this blade was perforated with holes whose purpose is not clear. Still 
later the blade was fastened into a wooden block as at the present time. 

The lathe was also known to the ancients. It is mentioned by Pliny 
(VII, 198), and numerous relics testify to the works' performed on it. 
What its appearance was is not known. It can only be surmised that, 
like the grindstone, it was driven by means of a treadle. ^ 

^ The present-day Arab wood-turners use a bow-lathe (cf. the bow- drill in Fig. 
1 1 9) which is probably derived from the ancient Egyptians. It still survives in 
Europe in the ' turn bench ’ of the watch and clock makers. See Useful Arts and 
Handicrafts, by Leland and Ward, Vol. 2, p. 17, Dawbarn & Ward, Ltd., 1900.-— 
H.L. B. 



L eather played an important part in antiquity. Untanned 
hides, which were probably the oldest form of dress among all 
peoples, tended to decay and often lasted only a vshort time. So 
it may be presumed that steps were early taken to make them more 
durable by subjecting them to special treatment. It is not known what 
were the earliest methods of tanning. It is conjectured that the skins 
were first softened in water so that the hairs could be more readily re- 
moved. They were then treated with juices extracted from plants, — in 
some parts of Asia Minor 
possibly with the juice from 
periploca secamone, which 
is still used for tanning by 
the Arabians nowadays, 
and so probably served the 
same purpose in antiquity. 

Whether the Egyptians 
used it seems doubtful. It 
was at any rate a sort of 
tanning ; for it must be 
presumed that the action 
was due to the tannic acid 
contained in the plant. 

Many of the means 
nowadays used for tan- 125. -Preparation of Leather in Egypt 

. , , . Oil the right, above, wft apparently see the production of the tarmiag 

ning were also used in an- J solution (the tanninu substances are being pounded in a vessel). 

Bclow, OH thc right, the hides are being soaked; below, on the left, 
tiquity. Above ail, every r depilation is being performed on a seraping block. Further, we see 
cvf +1-00 fini-lo hides, pieces Of leather (above, the rectangular piece on the left), vessels, 

variety OX ti ee-rintis, suen skins with borders (three superposed in the luiddle. towards the right) 

as those of the alder 

(Theophrastus) ; further, parts of fruits, such as of pomegranates, 
acorns and so forth, were used. Besides this, numerous other plants and 
parts of plants were used, of which tannic acid is a constituent. "J'awing 
was also known (Pliny, XXXV, 190) and salt was used ; indeed, accord- 
ing to Wilkinson, the Egyptians are supposed to have used lime ; but this 
seems little likely, as burnt lime can be used without harming the hide 
only if extreme caution is exercised, and unbiirnt lime is not a tanning 


agent at 

all. Nor has it been possible to prove whether oil was used 
■dressing). The methods of treating leather that were most 

^ prevalent in antiquity 

r — were thus probably ordin- 
I ary tanning and tawing. 

Hides of very varied sorts 
|/\>^ were tanned by these pro- 

t uU i;' M cesses, those of domestic 

S' animals as well as those of 

I \ I/TV ip^l H I ■ j other game and 

IZ I itl -..--bil of beasts of prey. There 

Fig. 126.— -Leather Work in. Egypt 
On the Icift ; Pieces of leather are being perforated by an awl ; below 
is a scraping block with an iron scraper and punches ; on the block 
is the hide that is to be worked (in the original painting it is spotted, 
so that probably it is a leopard skin) ; above it are. rectangular pieces 
of leather. The next figure shows leather being stretched over a rack; 
the third and fourth men are engaged similarly to the first. Above 
are pieces of leather, hides and tools (for beating, scraping, and comb- 
ing, etc.) 

was thus no lack of variety 
in the leather. 

The tools used for tan- 
ning are known to us only 
from a single discovery in 
Pompeii. They consist of 

Fig. 127. — Leather Work in Egypt 

Smoothing leather on a supporting base, with the help of a polishing 
stone (?), and (below) splitting leather with a knife. On the right : 
Stretching and softening leather by pulling it over a rack 

a bronze scraper which is 
fastened by rivets to a 
wooden handle. Then 
there is a long concave 
scraping knife (two speci- 
mens have been found) ; 
and, thirdly, a small curved 
knife, whose probable use 
is indicated by the fact 
that nowadays furriers and 
other workers in leather 
still use a curved knife 
whose crescent-shaped edge 
is sharpened along its 
whole length. It is re- 
markable that in the an- 

:y— r: — ; r— 7 r ^ ^ cient Egyptian wall paint- 

; £ . I - If GOO 2 b ings at Thebes similar 

« Z' ' ' ■ 

' ■ ’ depicted dressing 

^ rfl ' leather. Further, there 

M i S found in the same 

place stones for poli.shing 
\v leather, tablets which 

i.l; n i served as a rest when it 

Fig. 128.— Leather Work in Egypt being CUt, forms OVer 

Froru left to right : Scraping a suspended hide by means of a scraper ; Which it WaS bcut, and SO 
pummelling, stretching and softening leather by drawing it over a forth Tho -nirtnrcic 
rack. The activities of the two men on the right are not clear Ui. illC piCIUreS ailOW 

US to observe how the 
ancients used punches, knives, scrapers, borers and needles, and also 
racks for drawing and stretching leather. 




It is seen from the preceding section that the Egyptians had at their 
disposal a fairly ext cu- 
es I sive set of tools for work- 

ill I ing leather. The eqiiip- 

sive set of tools for work- 
ing leather. The equip- 
ment of the Greeks and 
Romans f was probably 



Figs. 129 and 130. — Cutting Soles in an ancient 
Egyptian shoemaker’s workshop 

Fig. T31. — Pummelling a 
Leather Sole 

icri' srt'ins no Ktlw-r possiblo intf'rpret.i- 
)ii of this i)i<;tHrc : if shows that cvfii in 
osc early times soles treated 
as at the present time 

Egyptian shoemaker s workshop elaborate, as is 

'I'hc picture is probably to be interiireted as follows : Above, from left to frnrn mimiarr'inc 

riK'ht, soakiiif* the leather ami softening it by punmiellinK or hammering KIIUWII iXUlit UUs 

between two stones ; drawing ami stretehing it over a raek. The pieture civrnrrotinnc onrl «p\rprnl 
below : Cutting out soles on a support tXCaVclUUllS ailU ht-VCiai 

descriptions. Knives have 
been found that resemble onr own, and other finds show that shoe- 
maker’s awls mounted on wooden handles were used. An important 
point ^ was ^established by // / 

lasts ^ were ^in' use^ ^ 

leather were then joined 132 -— a Greek .Shoemaker's Workshop 

tOP'Cther bv mearm nf The customer is standing on the table on the piece of leather out of wliirh 

• \ the master (on the left) is about to cut the sole hy means of the creseent- 

tendons from animals or knife. The assistant on the right (ac(;ording to Bliinmer) is 

1 T ,1 ,1 holding the piece of leather intended for the upper part of the. shoe. On 

IW leatlier thongs. I he theshelftotheleft, pincers and awls; on the wall, two pieces of leather 

suspend^ by a loop, two lasts and a basket. Below the table is a 
joins V\ ere sometimes vessel which (m the opinion of the author) contains water for softening 
/iffppf pH 'htr rnrp+in cr ■ in just as we find it under every shoemaker’s table nowadays. 

ClitOLCU Uy liVtLlIlg , m- The same sort of vessel is to be seen under the table in other Greek 

deed nieces of leather pictures. From a picture on a vase out of the Bom-guignon c-ollcction 

ciGcu, puGGCb Ui U-dLllCl m Naples, and now in Boston 


were set with nails or rivets, partly for decorative purposes and 
partly to protect them. The soles consisted either of leather or of wood, 
and were sometimes nailed. There is every kind of shoe from the 

Fig. 133. — Roman Soles 

From k‘f t to ris'lit : Two nailed soles for the right foot ; a sandal spread out Hat 

rests, and above the latter is the so-called inner-sole). Below is an awl and a shoemaicer’s Unite. 
Found at Mainz. Museum of .■Antiquities, Mainz 

daintiest women’s shoes to the coarsest soldiers’ shoes, sandals as well as 
boots. There were right and left shoes, made on the corresponding lasts. 
Dagger sheaths of leather and similar coverings were made over wooden 

forms that had previously 
been cut into the appro- 
priate shape. 

The chemical treatment 
of leather serves the pur- 
pose of colouring and pre- 
serving it. Madder and 
vermilion were chiefly used 
to colour it, and copper 
vitriol (sulphate) was used 
to Stain it black ; the 
black colour is due to the 
copper salt reacting chemi- 
cally with the tanning sub- 
stance in the leather. In 
general, however, the 
leather was worn in its natural colour. To preserve it, oil was rubbed 
in (Pliny, XV, 34). 

Fig. 134. — Roman Sandals, Shoes, Nailed Soles 
Found at Mainz. Museum of Antiquities, MMnz 



T he oldest implement of agriculture is probably the digging stick, 
which has appropriately been likened to a lengthened and hard- 
ened finger. In antiquity this stick developed into the plough 
through stages of whose existence there are no records, but which are 
rendered probable by observations taken from primitive peoples. It 
may be supposed that the staff was early weighted by a stone having 
a central hole. In this way a digging stick was obtained such as is 
still used by the Bushmen of South Africa. By thrusting this stick-* 
into the ground and placing the foot on the stone, one obtained a 

Fig. 137. — Bushman 
Digging Stick 

Fig. 138. — In the foreground is the Mattock or 
Hoe, behind is the Hoe-plough of the Red 
Indians of Colombia 

lever (Fig. 137) ; this enabled the ground to- be loosened and turned 
over more readily than was possible with a simply pointed stick. To 
increase the rate of working the lower part of this primitive implement 
was broadened, and so the spade was evolved. A particularly convenient 
form of this spade offered itself now and then in nature : a strong bough 
with a branch inclined at an acute angle allowed greater power to be 
applied and one could thus dig more deeply. It was in this form that 
the hoe was first used (Fig. 138), and from it there developed the plough : 
for by reversing the hoe so that its blade is no longer directed forwards 


but backwards, and by harnessing draught-cattle to its long handle, we 
arrive at the plough (Fig. 138). It is in this form that the plough occurs 
in antiquity. It has preserved this shape throughout thousands of years 
(Fig. 140), although improved forms were also devised. Even in late 
Roman times such ploughs were probably not infrequently used. 

Alongside of this, however, a de- 
velopment occurs which shows rapidly 
increasing mechanical advantage in 
its various stages. The bough with 
the bent hoe-like limb for an end is 
not always easy to find in Nature 
in the exactly appropriate form, as 
the end is usually too narrow. This 
limb was therefore generally prepared 
separately and then either bound or 
fastened on to the branch by pegs. 

Ploughshare and shaft were likewise 
individually prepared. Joined to- 
gether they formed a plough (Fig. 

141). Wooden ploughs of this type were used by the Babylonians ; 
they are preserved to us from Egyptian times. The Romans preferred 
special sorts of wood for making them, above all the common oak, the 
kermes oak, the laurel and the elm. The ploughshare was often made 
of metal, as it then wears off less soon and cannot be so easily damaged 
by stones as in the case of a wooden share ; moreover, on account 

of its heavier weight and 
sharper edge the bronze 
or iron share cuts through 
the soil more readily. 

But this plough had 
yet one fault : it could be 
guided only with dif&culty. 
For this purpose a special 
handle, the plough-tail, was 
added, which served to 
direct it. In the course of 
time two tails were added, 
as this enabled both hands 
to be used in guiding the 
plough. Also, the plough- 
beam, the shaft, became 
lengthened, and finally, to 
facilitate manipulation, a special connection, the sole, was inserted be- 
tween the beam and the handle. This improved hoe-plough is the form 
in wdiich we encounter the plough among many peoples of antiquity, 
particularly among those of the Near East and certain of the Mediter- 
ranean peoples (Egyptians and Etruscans). It was also used by the 
Greeks and the Romans wherever the soil was soft owing to frequent 

Fig. 140. — Greek Hoe-piough. Vase painting 
Berlin. Altes Museviin, Antiquarium 

Fig. 139. — The Iron Blade of a Coptic 
Hoe (form of the Egj’piian hoe) used 
for loosening the soil 
Berlin. Altes Musimiiii, Egyptian Section 



rains. It was found to be particularly useful at places like the Delta 
of the Nile or the inundated parts of the Euphrates, where the rivers 
deposit a soft and therefore easily worked mud which is free from 

But wherever the cultivation of the soil made higher demands on the 
plough, the latter was improved still further. This was the case particu- 
larly with the Greeks and the Romans, who used improved ploughs 
simultaneously with the hoe-plough just described. The various parts, 
that is the beam (temo), the tail {stiva), the handle {manicula) , ^nd the tail 
{buns or hum), were retained (particularly by the Romans), but the share 
was placed obliquely to allow a special share-beam [dentale] to be added, 
by which the plough could be more effectively directed. The form of the 
plough was at first that of a wedge, and so it was called ‘ vomer ’ . To 

Fig. i^i. — Kaffirs -with Composite Ploughs, such as were also used by many peoples of 
antiquity, and Mattocks 

turn the ploughed-up sod of earth over the share was turned to one side, 
being made in the form of a right-angled triangle, and was furnished with a 
board. Finally the ploughshare and the mould-board were curved into 
the shape of a helical surface (screw-like) and so an extended arched 
blade rostratus) was obtained which entailed a far less expenditure 

of energy in pulling the plough and turning the sod. But since the grassy 
surface of the soil can be cut only with difficulty by this share, so that it 
still requires considerable power to direct the plough, a special coulter is 
fastened in front of the blade to cut the surface before the share reaches it. 
This coulter (cuUer) , as well as the frame which carries wheels (which was 
also added later), is to be found even in ancient Greek ploughs. In this 
way there developed among the Greeks, and more particularly among the 
Romans, a type of plough which in the later period resembled the simple 
farm plough of modern times. Numerous specimens, especially of the 
ploughshares and coulters, have been found. 




Herodotus (II, 14) reports of the Egyptians that lived below Memphis : 

‘ They do not need to break up furrows with the plough, nor to hoe, nor 
to perform any of the work which troubles other people in tilling, for the 
river comes of its own accord on to their fields and irrigates them, and 
when it has done so, it leaves them. Each husbandman then sows his 
field and drives pigs on to it ; and when the pigs have trampled the 
seeds into the soil, he waits for the harvest-time, when he threshes out the 
corn again by means of pigs and brings it into his granary.’ This passage 
might lead us to the erroneous conclusion that ploughs were not used in 
one of the most important parts of Egypt. But this certainly does not 
apply as Herodotus’ remarks would lead us to believe. Concerning 
ploughing among the ancient Egyptians, Diodorus (136) in the first century 
B.c. and Columella {De re rustica, HI, 25) in the first century A.D., narrate 
that the Egyptians made 
shallow furrows in the 
.surface of the land by 
means of light ploughs, a 
mode of ploughing that 
the Romans called scari- 
Jicatio. Pictures and 
manifold remains of an- 
cient Egyptian ploughing 
have been handed down 
to us, which give us de- 
tailed information about 
the form and manipu- 
lation of the plough. 

According to these repre- Fig. 142.— Egyptian Hoe. Length 28 in. 

sentations, the Egyptians BorUn Museum, Egyptian Section 

seem to have had a prefer- 
ence for using the rake in addition to the plough. This rake was of 
wood and resembled the capital letter A (Fig. 142). The of 
the A is made of a piece of twisted rope. Further, the seed was often 
scattered in front of the plough so that it was ploughed straight into 
the ground. In the case of dry sods of soil the Egyptian plough often 
seems not to have achieved its purpose. This may be inferred from the 
fact that on a drawing on the tomb of Kha-em-hat workers are seen 
walking in front of the plough who are breaking up the sods with a 
.sort of hammer. 

Deeper furrows than those of the Egyptians were made by the Romans, 
who were, indeed, excellent farmers. They were acquainted (as were also 
the Egyptians) with manures and the rotation of crops (Pliny, XVII, 6 ; 
XVI H, 53, and so forth), as well as intermittent farming (fallow one year, 
cultivated soil the next). The fallow fields were used as pasture land. 
The Roman husbandman did not simply plough to and fro, but mostly 
cross-ways ; indeed, he sometimes ploughed the same field seven times 



before he proceeded to sow. Various accounts give us information about 
the advanced development of the methods of tilling the soil. M. Terentius 
Varro (116-27 b.c.) writes in his De re rustica, i, 29, 2 : ‘ When ploughing 
is being done for the third time after sowing, little boards are attached 
to the share, thus covering up the sown seed in the rows and making 
furrows in which the rain-water may run off.' But Pliny, who was 
already acquainted with four types of ploughs (XVIII, 171), describes 
the use of the harrow {rastrum) (XVIII, 180) by which the clods of 
earth were broken up, the grass surface was destroyed and the weeds 
were removed ; ' After the field has been ploughed for the second time 
it is harrowed either by means of a frame of interlaced twigs (carrying 
thorns) or with a proper harrow, according to whichever is necessary, and 
when the sowing has been done, the harrowing is repeated.’ For the 
rest, the harrow was also known to the Egyptians and Jews ; the 
Greeks, on the other hand, seem not to have used it. 

Concerning the ways and means used by the Germanic tribes in 
agriculture, unfortunately only very little has been handed down to 
posterity, at least as regards the treatment of the soil. Tacitus merely 
states : ‘ The land to be cultivated is changed every year and a part 
is always left fallow. For they do not strive with industry to increase 
the productiveness of the soil and the area of cultivation by planting 
fruit trees, marking off pasture land or watering gardens. The German 
demands only corn from the soil. Therefore he does not divide the 
year into four seasons ; he has the words and ideas of winter, spring and 
summer, but autumn, as also her gifts, are unknown to him.’ Numerous 
finds of prehistoric times, and in particular of the La Tbne period stretch- 
ing from 400 B.c. to the birth of Christ, lead us to conclude that at the 
dawn of history agricultural implements, in particular ploughs, which 
resembled those of the Romans, were also used in Germania. It has been 
established that they used the movable mould-board (or breast) which 
could be set to the right or to the left, as well as the fixed mould -board. 
Hoes were also used in cultivating the soil. 


The sickle and the scythe likewise occur among almost all peoples of 
antiquity at the first dawn of history. At the beginning of Egyptian 
history blades were stiU made of flint, but later they were made of 
bronze and iron. The blade is often toothed. For the rest, these 
implements resembled our own fairly closely in form, manipulation 
and action. 

The corn that had been harvested was threshed ; originally this was 
probably performed by an extremely primitive method, namely by 
driving animals, chiefly oxen, over the scattered stalks. How old this 
method is can be gathered from the fact that it is mentioned by Homer 
[Iliad, XX, 495): 

‘ For even as when one yoketh wide-horned bulls to tread white barley 


in a stablished threshing-floor, and quickly is it trodden out beneath the 
feet of the loud-lowing bulls. . . ^ 

The oxen, which were urged on by drivers, were often replaced by 
other animals, such as mules, and probably asses and horses. Flails were 
also used ; they were not, however, provided with a movable swingle but 
consisted only of rods with which the corn was beaten (see Fig. 167, 
above on the right, p, loi). The Romans had threshing-machines, of 
which a particular form, plostellum Poenicum, is supposed to have been 
invented by the Carthaginians. We do not know what its appearance 

Fig. 143. —Roman Agricultural Implements 

was, but probably it was shaped like a roller. Another type of threshing 
inachinc, trihulum, described by Varro {De re rusiica, 152), was a wooden 
plate roughened underneath by stones or iron and weighted by means of 
stones as well as by the weight of the driver ; this was drawn over the 
corn by oxen. The grains appear to have been pressed or squeezed out 
by the roughened .surface. Yarrq’s description does not give a clear 
picture of the implement, but it probably resembled that which is still used 

1 Prose Translation by Lang, Leaf and. Myers, Macmillan & Co., London. 


nowadays by the Syrians and some Arabian tribes. The latter consists of 
a wooden sledge in the shape of a chair, under the runners of which sharp 
stones are fastened ; they are drawn by oxen. Varro's Latin text also 
allows this interpretation. 

Threshing was followed by winnowing, that is, separating out the 
chaff. The corn was placed into shallow woven baskets shaped like a 
bowl or into flat wooden barrels of moderate size which could be con- 
veniently packed together on their narrow sides. (It is proved by exca- 
vations that this was done by the Egyptians.) So soon as a strong wind 
blew, the contents were whirled into the air. If no wind was available, it 
was generated artificially, as old Egyptian pictures show, by fanning 
with a fan or a brush. The Greeks and Romans used a sieve. The 
heavy grains fell back into the baskets while the lighter chaff was 
scattered by the wind. The spade w^'as also used for a similar purpose 
(see Fig, 167, above in the middle, p. loi). Wooden forks were in some 
cases applied to effecting this separation of chaff from the grain. By 
this process the corn was sufficiently prepared to allow it to be utilized 
for its proper purpose, namely, to making food, in particular bread, and 
to preparing beverages. It was kept as grain in granaries from which 
it was taken when required, 



I N the case of probably all the peoples of antiquity, baking bread was a 
purely domestic matter which occupied the housewife and her servants. 
The profession of the baker came into being comparatively late, 
namely during the war against King Perseus of Macedonia in the year 582 
from the founding of the city of Rome (Pliny , XVIII, 107) . This was about 
171 B.c. Until that date ail the individual steps necessary for preparing 
bread, that is grinding the grain, mi.ving the. dough, allowing it to rise, 
baking and so forth, w-ere carried out in the home. Nor did the advent of 
the professional baker succeed in entirely stopping the making of breiid in 
the home ; just as nowadays in many households, particularly in smaller 
towns and in the country, ‘home-made’ bread is .still met with. 
The baker was also the miller, as is prov('d by discoveries in Pompeii 
among others, where the mills and the bakeries lie together in one 
property. These two trades, milling and baking, became separated at a 
still later period. 

This course of development was not without its influence on the process 
itself. The utensils used were at first .so designed that they could also be 
manipulated by the weaker sex. Later, they were made larger, more 
efficient and adapted to trade requirements. lunally, however, milling 
proceeded along its own lines, producing at a far greater rate than was 
necessary merely for bakeries. The miller enlisted the help of machinery, 
and above all, water power, in order to provide as great a number of 
bakeries and households as possible with flour. 


It may be generally assumed that the corn used for milling was in the 
state in which it was left after it had been cleared of chaff by being 
winnowed or passed through a sieve. In some cases, however, the milling 
was preceded by a special treatment aimed at facilitating the removal of 
the husk from the grain. This treatment consisted in roasting the corn. 
The roasting was performed either with or without moistening the corn ; 
this was first applied to barley, but later also to other forms of corn, such as 
spelt (Gemian wheat). The purpose of moistening the corn beforehand 
was to effect by an osmotic process a preliminary separation of the husk 
from the cells containing starch-flour in the grain. The husk and its 
content swell up by different amounts when soaked, The moisture first 
swells up the husk, soaks through it in virtue of osmosis and thus arrives 



at the grain, which likewise swells up. When distended to the maximum 
extent, they are pressed hai'd against each other. If the corn is then dried 
the husk and the grain shrink to different amounts and this causes a 
general loosening of the configuration. The roasting makes the husk 
brittle, so that when subjected to mechanical treatment, which consists 
of pounding, it easily breaks oM. The corn was roafsted either on or 
between hot stones or in an oven, after having been placed in a special 
vessel. The grains were separated from the husks, after the roasting and 
stamping were finished, by means of sieves. 

Grind, mill, grind ! 

For Pittakos also grinds, 

The ruler of great Mytilene, 

So runs an ancient song quoted by Plutarch (about a.d. 50-120), and 
since also in the Old Testament of the Bible and in the Edda such ‘ millers’ 
songs ’ are mentioned, we may assume that in ancient times, too, milling 
was a cheerful occupation often accompanied by song ; and this also shows 
that although the technical appliances used were very primitive the work 

involved was far less of a strain than 
might appear at first sight. The 
oldest form of milling consisted of 
rubbing and pounding the corn. 

Ancient Egyptian pictures and, 
in particular, beautiful carvings, 
as well as more or less roughly 
finished grave-gifts, disclose how 
this grinding was accomplished. 
A stone which in many cases had 
its upper surface hollowed out like 
a flat bowl was sloped off or set 
up so that its front end lay 
deeper than its rear end. The 
woman kneeled down on the latter and ground the corn in the 
hollow which sloped down in front of her by means of a second 
smaller stone. The motion was not merely one of pure sliding but 
consisted also of a knocking action. The Romans were therefore 
right later, wFen other kinds of milling came into use, in speaking of 
this kind of mill as a 7 nola trusatilis, which may be rendered by the 
term ‘ knocking mill Since tmsare indicates energetic knocking, this 
expression also betrays the important fact that in using these mills 
rubbing and crushing played a secondary part compared with striking. 
For rubbing and crushing we find stones employed that were not hollowed 
out ; with them were used flat grinding-stones with a large area of base, 
such as we see in the ancient Egyptian carvings above-mentioned. Later 
improvements in milling did not succeed in supplanting these old grind- 
ing, crushing and knocking mills. On the site of encampments of Roman 
soldiers stationed on the borders of Germania, rubbing-bowls were found, 
which were made of clay, into which quartz fragments had been pressed. 
In them the soldiers rubbed up the grains of wheat, after having previous^ 

Figs. 144 and 145.—- Millstones of Trachyte 
Diameter™ g in, and ii in. respectively. Found at 
Hissarlik (Troy) 


added water. By this means they obtained a pap ready lor baking 
without requiring the immediate step of making flour. In view of tlu; 
comparatively small amount of energy expended in milling by any of the 
above-named processes, the out- 
put was not strikingly large. At 
the suggestion of Heron de Ville- 
fosse Ringelmann made experi- 
ments in the Institut National 
Agronomique in Paris which showed 
that the grinding led to no proper 
flour but only to a sort of groats. 

In the course of an hour only about 
10 ounces of ground corn was ob- 
tained. Villefranche infers from 
this that before mills were im- 
proved only comparatively little 
bread and bread-cakes were eaten 
and that they were probably a 
luxury. We are probably correct 
in surmising that the corn was 
soaked and then boiled, as is still 
done nowadays in the case of 
beans, peas and lentils. 

This is corroborated by two 
passages in Homer, Iliad, XVIII, 

558-560, and Odyssey, XIV, 76, 77. 

The former mentions a ‘ mash ’ made of white barley, and the second 
relates that white barley-meal was used for sprinkling over the roast, 

‘ crumbing ' it, as we should now say. Pliny (XVIII, 19) also writes of 

pap or dumplings {offa) made of 
the crushed grain. 

The low grade of efficiency of 
these earliest mills which had been 
so long in use finally led to their 
being greatly improved among the 
various peoples. Without such 
progress, indeed, it would be im- 
possible to imagine achievements 
such as, for example, those of the 
Papyrus Rollin in Paris which re- 
ports that 114,064 loaves of bread 
were on one occasion delivered by 
the master of the king’s bakery. 
A first improvement Was effected 
in Egypt by making the mill- 
stone higher so that the work was done in a standing instead of in a 
sitting posture. Such mill-stones sprang into being in the New Kingdom. 
The women who did the work were next replaced by men. For example, 

Fig. 148. — Rubbing Dish of Clay with 
quartz fragments embedded in it 

Found on the site of an encuimpment on the Roman- 
Germaii border. Museum at Mainz 

Fig. 140.— Egyptian Grinding-stone for 
grinding down corn 

Length = 5-4 in. Fnuul at Tliebrs. Rerlin Museum, 
Egyptian Department 

Fkl 147. — A Servant grinding Corn. 
Egyptian Carving in Limestone 
Tlie Itody is painted reddish-brown, apron white, grind- 
ing-stone red. I^ength is 16 in. Found at Saqiiavah. 
Berlin Museiun, ligyptiaii Department 



it is reported of Samson in the Bible (Judges xvi. 21) ' and lie did grind 
in the prison house’ ; it is also corroborated by various drawings. In 
(irt'cco and Rome, however, and probably also in other countries, free- 
men ('ould not be forced to grind against their will. This was work 
for slaves and criminals, who were often prevented by means of a 

broad wooden collar placed round 
the neck from partaking of the 
corn or the flour. 

Besides the mill-stone the mor- 
tar was also much used for pound- 
ing the corn. Such appliances were 
found by Schliemann in the exca- 
vations at Troy ; they consisted 
of a mortar made of basalt and a 
pestle of hard limestone which did 
not, apparently, belong together. 
Probably the two parts were 
always made of the same material 
Furthermore, pictures on vases 
and, above all, a delightful Tan- 
agra figure in the Berlin Museum, 
which dates back to the fifth century r.c,, clearly shows how the pounding 
was performed, llu* mortar proper rested on a stand whose height w^as 
such that its up])er rim reached about to the knee of the worker, or else it 
and the stand were made of one piece. The pe.stle was of wmod, about 
30 to 39 in. long, and narrow^ed clowm at the middle so that it could be 
conveniently grasped (Fig. 151). 

The hnv efficiency of all these contrivances 
early created a desire for further improve- 
ments, and so, simultaneously with the mill- 
stone, there developed the mill, of wdiose exist- 
ence there is some evidence among almost all 
peoples of antiquity. Thus, w^hen the Jews 
were prisoners of the Babylonians, they. had to 
transport mill-stones (Lamentations v. 13) ; and 
Deuteronomy (xxiv. 6) contains the command- 
ment : ‘ No man shall take the nether or the 
iq)per mill- stone.’ Homer writes in the 

Odyssey (VII, 104, and elsewhere) of 'mills’, 
meaning probably querns or hand-mills. And 
in Egypt, too, the use of mills is confirmed, 
although no w^'aH- drawings are preserved 
which, depict them. All these mills were at first hand-mills and 
probably looked very much alike in all countries. The hand-mill con- 
sisted of two stones, of w^hich the lower was fixed while the other w^as 
rotated on it. Originally the upper stone was probably ahvays lifted 
off when fresh grain had to be added. Later, how^ever, the upper 
stone ha,d a hole in the centre while the lower had a projection which 

pounding Grain in a Mortar 
i’if-'turo on a Greek vasie 

Figs.; 140 and 150.-— Mortar of Basalt and 
Fostle of Hard f.imostone 

Diameter ot the Mortar in. ami lO in. UmK'tli of 
the pestle .si in. itiameter of its nililiing ami pouiul- 
iriR siirfaie ---- in. 'Iroy 


passed through this hole. Between this pivot and the hole enough sj)ace 
remained for adding grain when necessary. A gri]> was added to tlu; 
upper stone to enable it to be turned more easily, and the lower one was 
provided with a rim which was to prevent the grain from falling out. 
When ground the grain was 
run off through leads into a 
receiver underneath (Fig. 152). 

In order to spread the grains 
entering at the central hole 
over the whole space between 
the two mill-stones, the latter 
had small grooves running 
out radially, between which 
further grooves were inserted 
inclined at acute angles to 
them. These grooves also in- 
crease the friction and in this 
way aid the crushing of the 
grain. There followed as a 
logical development of the 
hand-mill those typical Roman 
mills which have been handed 
down to us through excavations at Pompeii, and are represent ed in pictures 
and so forth. The earliest confirmation of the use in Rome of these 
mills, which Varro and Pliny report were invented in the town Volsinii 
(Bolsena), is given in the second century b.c. The improvement, made 
in order to grind more rapidly, was probably 
attained by attaching two grips to the upper 
mill-stone so that two people coiikl grind simul- 
taneously ; they presumably did this by pass- 
ing the grips from one to the other in rotation. 
But in the earlier stages they still used only their 
hands. The whole weight of their bodies could 
be applied only when larger mills were used, 
which consisted of a conical base of stone on 
which the milling- stone was rotated ; the upper 
stone was, of course, hollowed out so as to fit 
over the cone. As the entrance funnel was 
fixed immediately above, the mill- stone assumed 
the form of two hells placed with their necks end 
to end and so the mill- stone presented the aspect 
of an hour-glass. In order to he able to rotate 
it two pivots were inserted at the outside of 
the junction of the necks radially, that is hori- 
zontally, so that rotating levers could be applied in the hollows of the 
pivots. In the case of large mills worked by animals these levers were 
riveted, or else strengthened by a scaffolding which passed over the 
whole entrance funnel as a sort of protective covering. The heavy 

I-'lG. 153. — Roman Mill. 

On the left is a sectional view ; 
on the right is an exterior view, 
rt is a brick foundation, h is a surface 
or a groove into which the flour 
collected, and from which it was 
run off ; f is a fixed conically- 
shaped grinding-stone of the out- 
line shown. This shape leads to a 
very narrow passage at e, at which 
the grain is most strongly exjui- 
pressed ; d is a rotating eoiinter- 
grinder in the form of an hour-glass, 
and it Iras a funnel-shaped opening 
at the top 

Saalbiirg Museum 



Fig. 154.— The iron Pivot 
(a) and the (/>) in the 
interior of Roman mills 

grinding stone was not allowed to rest directly on the base stone as it 
could not then be rotated, nor could the grain 
have glided between the two. For this reason 
the base stone had an iron pivot on which the 
grinding-stone rested in such a way that a small 
space remained between them, which was par- 
ticularly narrow at one point owing to the 
slight convexity of the grinding-stone. Con- 
nection between the mill- stone and the pivot of 
the base stone was made by a disc placed inside 
the mill-stone at the narrowest point and hav- 
ing five holes (Fig. 154). The pivot passed 
through the large central hole (socket), while 
the other four holes allowed the grain to pass 
through into the mill By lengthening the cen- 
tral pivot or, in the case of larger mills, by extend- 
ing the beam which supported the framework 
of the entrance funnel, coarser flour could be 
obtained. As already mentioned, the mills were 
turned either by animals, usually asses or mules, 
or by slaves and criminals (not by free men) (Figs. 153-156). 

Later, the water-mill appeared, which Vitruvius describes (X, 5, 2) 

Fig. 155. — Roman Mill 
worked by an Ass 
Relief in a baker’s shop in I^ompeii 

Fig. 156. — ^Baker’s Mills at Pompeii 

The parts with the rubbing sm-faces are in the shape of an hour-glass and arc about 6 
ing the levers are clearly discernible in the two .rear mills. On the left is the baking 
we see the trough for receiving the water 

fh. The holes for insert- 
In front of it at the side 



somewhat as follows : ‘ The water-mills are driven in the same way (that 
is, by means of the under-shot w^heel). These mills are similar in all other 
respects except that they have a toothed wheel {a) at the end of the shaft. 
Working in this toothed wheel is another {h) at right angles to it and hav- 
ing at its upper end a double swallow-tail {e) which is plugged into the 
mill- stone. Thus the mill-stones [d) are rotated owing to the horizontal 
wdieel being made to turn by the motion transmitted by the teeth of the 
vertical w^hecl attached to the shaft (the paddle- w^hcel) . I'he mill-liop})er 
(/) placed above the mill-stones feeds the grain into the latter, w’here it 
becomes ground up.’ It is remarkable that this ancient Roman mill with 
the low-lying under-shot wheel as described by Vitruvius is .still in usc^ at 
the present time in some localities. It also 
serves as an example of how^ long some 
technical constructions last before they are 
superseded. Such regions also contain other 
relics which indicate that they once be- 
longed to the Roman Empire. For in- 
stance, the author found an example of this 
mill in the furthermost parts of Val di 
Gardena, where a dialect derived from 
Latin is still spoken. A peculiar feature of 
these mills is that the undershot wheel 
described by Vitruvius was always used 
even when die conditions were such that 
much greater efficiency would have been obtained by the use of an over- 
shot or middle-shot wheel (cf. Fig. 297, p. 228). 

In place of the water-wheel a pulley was often used (see p. 209). In 
the sixth century u.c. the floating-mill came into use ; its invention was 
due to the circumstance that Vitiges, King of the Goths, had the water- 
channels blocked up when he besieged Rome in the year a.d. 536. The 
animals which had turned the mills had to be slaughtered on account of the 
shortage of w^ater, and the slaves were required for purposes of defence ; so 
Belisarius had the mills mounted on ships that were afloat on the Tiber. 
Technically the floating- mill had the advantage of working independently 
of the level of the water. The undershot wheel thus alw^ays obtained its 
supply of -w^ater. Hence its chief disadvantage, which often required 
special dams or weirs to be constructed, was eliminated. 


In antiquity many different sorts of flour were made, from which 
innumerable dishes were prepared. For baking bread, however, wheat en 
flour was chiefly used, although numerous other cereals (barley, rye, 
millet, oats, etc.) were used, and various ingredients (oil, milk, wine, 
poppy, sesame, and so forth) were also added. Herodotus reports that 
the Eg}q)tians used spelt (II, 77, 78) in making bread, and also tlic seeds 
of the lotus-flower (II, 92) . Ancient Nordic bread from Scandinavia, wffiich 
was analysed by Rosendahl in the Stockholm Pharmaceutical Institute, 
was made of pine-bark and pea-meal. At first a mash of flour and water 

Fio, 157.-- Knman Waler-inill, 
according to X’itruvius 


was probably eaten universally, that is, a sort of polenta ^ (see p. 791) . In 
order to Ijc able to preserve this mash, which easily turned bad, generally 
becoming sour, baking was probably resorted to ; it was presumably 
carried out in hot ashes or perhaps on hot stones. At any rate the charred 
crust of some very old samples that have been found indicate that they 
wer(‘ baked in some such way. This bread was unleavened and was mostly 
baked in the form of discs. The remark by A^ergil, Aen. vii, 109, 
that the bread was used as a plate and afterwards eaten is explained by 
the flat shape of the unleavened bread. Leaven seems to be an invention 
of the Egyptians, by means of which the unleavened and imfermented 
flat cake became what is nowadays called ‘ bread ’. The knowledge of 
leaven was then passed on from the Egyptians to the Greeks and still later 

to the Romans. Among the Greeks, 

who honoiix'ed Dionysus as the 
inventor of bread-baking, bread 
became the staple food of the meal. 
Besides being prepared from wheat, 
bread was also made from barley 
flour. The crust served as a spoon 
for the other dishes ; it was not 
eaten, being thrown under the table 
after use. Both leavened and un- 
leavenedbread were eaten, and some 
bakers of Athens, such as Thearion, 
acquired great fame. 

To prepare the bread, flour of 
varying degrees of refinement was 
Tug. 158.— -Egyptian Granary with a used, wliicli had previously been put 
Bakery in front 1. • -n ‘G ,• 

through a sieve. The Egyptians 
on th?grh!d1uSle^ Blade thcii' flour-sieves with meshes 

^EmaaTLfhe ^f different sizes from thin strips of 

tom ivoiti papyms-plaiits or 

sitting on the roof, superintending oper.itioiis and from TCCdS. RoniaU floUr-sieVCS Wei'C 
keeping a list. (Orave-gift.) Berlin Museum, I'.gvptian , r i i i 

Dcpartiiipiit made 01 canvas or horse-hair procured 

from Gaul. In form they resembled 
our modern sieves. The dough was prepared by kneading. Although 
Herodotus ( 11 , 78) remarks of the Egyptians that they ‘ knead dough 
with their feet and clay with their hands ’, this docs not seem to be 
generally tnie, for old Egyptian reliefs show that in Egypt a trough of 
fine basket-work was used for kneading and that the hands were used, 
just as nowadays. The superfluous water passed out through the meshes 
of the basket into a stone jar placed below. Besides these, stone 
troughs were also used in Egypt for kneading. The Romans had in 
addition to similar stone troughs also wooden ones for use in the house- 
hold ; but in the bakeries, as for example in Pompeii, probably large flat 
stone troughs were exclusively used. An ancient Egyptian picture in the 
mnseura of Biilak shows us that great force was applied to knead the 
1 Italian porridge made of barley, chestnut meal, etc. — H. L, B. 


dough 1 horoiighly . I n the endeavour to economize this labour mechanical 
kneaders were developed, about the construction of which we have 

Fig. 159.' — A Bakery in Egypt 

The author regards the following intexprelatiori as correct : (i) kneading the dough by means of the feet ; (a) water- 
carriers bringing water for mixing the dough ; (3) moulds of various fomis ; above, baked loaves, small and large • 
(4) the oven, which is heated from below, and on the flat top of which the loaves are baked ; its construction agrees 
with that represented in the figure immediately preceding ; (5) ? ; (6) building up an oven for baking a different and 
of dough ; (7) moulds for this different dough— the man on the left seems to be cutting out the dough into by 

means of these moulds ; (8) the oven, filled with these cakes ; flames are seen shooting out of the top. 

information from discoveries at Pompeii. They consist of a kneading- 
trough of circular cross-section, carrying a wooden shaft pointing vertically 
upwards. It is pro- 
vided with wings that ^ 

reach almost as far as H 

the pinner walls of the — 

order to scrape off the ill 

dough that collects be- |iB 

tween the wings, lion- wM 

zontal rigid rods pass 

through the sides of the 'u 

trough into the interior. j., ir-iL lj;’’' 

They were fixed in such pprir ."f j '"-■i. ^ _ j 

the shaft rotated they 

came to lie between the b ; ^ 

wings, so that the dough jgo — ^ Kneading-maclune 

remained hanging on 

the rods and then fell down of its own weight. As is shown in old reliefs 

the kneading-machine was turned either by human beings or by 
T.A.S, — 7 / , , 



Fig. 164. — Baker in Tanagra (5tli century b.c.) 
Beriln, Altes Museum, Antiquarium 

animals. To enable the machine to be turned the vertical shaft was 
furnished with a horizontal beam (Fig. 160). 

The dough was salted 
and leavened before 
being kneaded. For 
leavening, the Romans 
used a mixture of sun- 
dried bran and ferment- 
ing must, which could be 
kept for a whole year. 
In Pliny’s time, just as 
nowadays, leaven was 
kept over from one day to 
the next (Pliny, XVIII, 
104). Pliny (XVIII, 68) 
is also acqtiainted with 
yeast, which he calls 
' condensed foam ’, which 
forms when beer fer- 
ments (see below). He . 
does not mention whether 
it was used by the 
Romans for making 
bread, but merely states 
that the Gauls and the 
Spaniards used it in place 
of leaven for baking bread. Not only was fermentation effected by 
means of leaven containing yeast, but other means of making bread rise 
were also known. 

Whether these actually 
included soda, as might 
be inferred from a passage 
in the Geoponica, II, 33, 
seems more than doubtful, 
as soda melts' only at 
850“ C, ; that is, at a 
temperature which could 
never be reached in the 
interior of dough that 
has been placed in a 
baking-oven. But even in 
the fused state soda does 
not give off carbon dioxide. 

Several reasons preclude 
the possibility of the dough 
having risen through escaping water of crystallization, so that we 
are urged to look for a different meaning of the word vitqov. The 
juice of grapes that had been soaked and then pressed out was also 

Figs. 161-163. — Egyptian Loaves 

The forms of the loaves are in part identical with those of Fig. 159. They 
disclose that some were obtained by kneading and forming, others by 
being stamped out of the flat dough. It must be recollected that the 
loaves of pyramidal shape {avpaniSa) were prepared for purposes of 
worship j this is the origin of the name later ^ven to the Pyramids 


thruU in. the bread. In the courtyard there are remains •o^milla. Above is a chimney (a rarity) 

to be indicated in a Tanagra figure of a man who is interpreted as a baker 
and which dates back to the fifth century b.c. ; later, baking was done 
in ovens. Originally the oven had no particular space for baking. The 
loaves were laid on then in the same way as they had formerly been placed 
on ashes or between hot bricks (see Figs, .158 and 159). A picture of the 


court bakery of Ramses III (about 1200 b.g.) in liis tomb at Thebes shows 
us an oven about a yard high which is heated from within ; the bread was 
stuck on to the hot sides and was here baked. Later, the oven was arched 
and heated from below. Usually the apertures of the oven proper and of 
the heating space were situated at right angles to each other. The fire was 
lit in the heating space, which was open on both 
sides and which lay immediately below the bottom 
of the oven. Whether it was maintained during 
baking or was removed beforehand is not known. 
For thrusting the bread into the oven in the ord- 
inary household probably the same board was 
used as that on which the dough had been shaped 
(this is suggested by Tanagra figures, etc.), 
whereas in the bakeries special long boards were 
used. In the larger bakeries, as for example in 
one excavated at Pompeii, ovens of considerable 
dimensions were used. Like many of the smaller 
ones they had small water-containers half built into the facade which 
perhaps contained the water with which the surface of the bread was 
moistened in order to obtain a good crust (see Fig. 156, p, 94). In the 
larger ovens (according to Overbeck) the inner arched oven proper a is 
surrounded by a rectangular space b, probably enclosed on all sides, 
which leads into it (Fig. 166) and which keeps in the hot air. The smoke 
due to the charcoal fire and the steam arising from the baking of the 
bread passed out through d] eh the ash-pit. The oven is connected by 
means of a moderately large opening c with the two adjoining chambers. 
Next to the oven are two clay vessels, half built in, which are situated 
to the right and left of an orifice leading from a fountain. These vessels 
probably served to contain the water used for wetting the half-baked 
bread in order to make its crust shine brightly. Other ovens, again, 
are provided with special chimneys. During baking the mouth of the 
oven was closed by an iron door furnished with handles. 

Fig. 166. — Section of an 
Oven at Pompeii 


According to Diodorus (first century b.c., in I, 20, 4 and 34, 10) the 
Egyptian god Osiris is supposed to have introduced into Egypt in the year 
2017 B.c. a beer made of malted rye, which he first brewed in the town 
of Pelusium. Herodotus (II, 77) reports the same, and also Pliny (XIV, 
149). Strabo {Geographica, X\TI, i, 14), Athenaeus {Dipnosoph. I, 61) 
and Aeschylus were acquainted with this Egyptian beverage {tvOoq ; 
Lat. zyihum), which, so Diodorus states, could ^most vie with wine in 
pleasantness of taste and power. In Strabo’s time (60 b.c. tih. a.d. 20) 
large quantities of Egyptian beer were drunk in Alexandria ; its mode 
of preparation is first stated in detail in the Papyrus Anastasi IV. 

In view^ of all this it might seem that the origin of beer is to be sought 
in Egypt. But according to more recent researches by tirozny, beer 



was already being brewed from rye in the year 2H00 js.c. in ancient 
Babylon and was a favourite drink among many tribes of this ('inpire. 
And there can be no doubt that the art of preparing it dates back much 
further still. The Babylonians made their beer not only out of barley 
but also out of spelt {Triticum dicoccum), which was probably first planted 
and cultivated by the Babylonians themselves. 

The production of ancient Babylonian beer proceeded parallel with 
the baking of bread. The Babylonians knew how to malt and to make 

Fig. 167. —Pictorial representation ol Beer-brewing among the Egyptians 
Wall picture in the sacrificial chamb«sr of Achet-hetep-her (Old Kingdom). The most correct interpretation probably 
runs as follows : Threshing the corn, winnowing, grinding p>y rubbing). In the middle row from right to left : Roasting 
the loaves by a flame held below (?) ; dividing up the bread and perhaps mixing with spelt or malt ; making the 

malting apparatus and tlie fermenting oats. Bottom rt — ’-**■ " ‘ ' 

and malt o” ' 

jread and ptThaps mixing with spelt or malt ; making the 

, „ r, from left to right : Preparing the wort by mixing bread 

r six-ll in water (malting) ; filling the boer toto vessels ; scaling the vessels 

malt-bread out of rye and spelt. From the malt-bread they also made 
a special kind of toasted bread, corresponding somewhat in its method 
of preparation with, our toast. This bread was soaked and then allowed 
to ferment. This produced a sort of kvass. Robert asserts that the 
Egyptians when they settled in their country discovered this kvass 
already in existence among the primitive Hamitic population living 
there. They made continual endeavours to inarease the alcohohe 
content of kvass, which deprived it of its harmless quality, converting it 
into beer. A beverage of a similar nature was also drunk in many other 

IG 2 


countries at an early date. “ Archilochus reports that about the year 700 
B.c. the Phrygians and the Thracians knew how to prepare a popular 
drink of this kind. It is also mentioned by Aeschylus, Sophocles and 
Theophrastus, and was made partly of rye and partly of fruit, being 

Fig, 168.^ — ^Egyptian Brewery 

Spreading out and preparing the com (model by Karl Runk). 0 eutsches Museum, Munich 

called ^Qvrog or ^qvxov. This also gradually developed into an intoxi- 
cating drink. The same applies to the fermented liquors made from 
corn by the Germanic tribes, the Gauls, the Iberians, the Lusitanians, the 
Ligurians, the Illyrians, and the Pannonians ; also by other peoples. 

Fig. 169. — ^Egyptian Brewery 
(Model by Karl Runk.) Deutsclies Museum, Mumch 

particularly in the North, whose names have not been quoted by ancient 
writers. Among some of these peoples, as for example the Germanic 
races, mead, that is, fermented honey, was also in use from early times'' 
(Robert) , It was first mentioned by the navigator Pytheas of Massilia 
about 300 B.c. (Stiibe). 



'Fbe original form of beer was thus that made from bread and still 
found nowadays in many parts of Russia as kvass. It was soon noticed 
that it was not necessary first to make bread out of flour-pap in order to 
prepare beer. Quass (or kvass) also resulted when the flour-pap was 
allowed to ferment directly. It did not, indeed, then have the 
dark colour of the liquor prepared from the baked substance, nor did 
it liave the pleasant taste and fragrant quality produced by baking 
on a hot stone. A further retrogressive step occurred in not preparing 
flour-pap at all but making the alcoholic liquor directly from roasted 

All these methods of preparing beer were practised early by the 
Babylonians, who thus had numerous varieties at their dispo.sal. We 
are here using the term beer to mean a drink which, in contrast with 
kvass (which contains only a small percentage of alcohol), can produce 
violent intoxication. Whether it is prepared from hops or not makes 
no difference in this use of the term ; save that among the Teutonic 
peoples the term ' beer ’ was used comparatively seldom of a drink 
containing no hops. The Babylonians were familiar with the following 
species of beer in the above sense.- Firstly, they had a very * cheap ' 
beer, a sort of black beer prepared from barley to which, in some cases, 
spelt was added in amounts up to one-fifth of the substance to be 
brewed. Apart from these cases, the wort consisted only of barley 
materials, that is, of barley itself, or of baked barley bread or of malted 
barley. ' Good black beer ' was produced from one-fifth of husked .spelt 
and four-fifths of baked spelt-bread. ‘ Red beer ’ consisted of less than 
a quarter of spelt to which bread and ground malted-spelt was added. 
It appears to have been a thick beer. Beer of the best sort was made by 
using one-third spelt and two-thirds bread and malt for preparing the 
wort. The price of beer was higher in proportion to the amount of spelt 
used in preparing it. Strong and dear beers were probably also diluted 
with water in Babylon. 

The fermenration of the wort was induced spontaneously in the case 
of all these over-fermented beers, just as is still done with kvass nowa- 
days, no artificial yeast being added. Either fermenting agents floated 
in from the air, or they were contained in the bread that was added (this 
bread was probably made without leaven), in which they were likely to 
be present owing to its accessibility to air. Since yeast loses its vitality 
above 45° C. (113"* Fahr.), and as this temperature was, on account of 
the method of baking used, not attained everywhere on the upper surface 
or even probably in the interior of the doughy mass, which was thumb- 
thick, the bread used for making beer probably still contained some 
living micro-organisms of yeast. Moreover, other species of fermentation 
fungi, pai'ticularly the one which produces the sourness of milk, probably 
played some part in the process. The fact that this was true beer — 
that is, an intoxicating beverage — ^is evident from the thirteenth 
maxim of the writer Ani, which was probably written at the time of 
the 20th Dynasty (thirteenth and twelfth century b.c.). The maxim 


' Do not get heated in the hou§e m which intoxicating iiquoi* is being drunk. . . . 
Your legs will become paralysed, and you will fall ; no one will lend you a hand, your 
boon companions will drink and will leave, saying — " Go home, for you have drunk 
your fill.” You are wanted for discussing your own private affairs ; and you will 
be found lying helplessl}?- on the ground like a small child.’ 

Like the beer itself, so also the habit of correcting its taste and giving it 
a certain bitterness by adding lupines comes from the East, probably 
from the regions of the Caucasus. In Western Europe, the use of hops 
cannot be traced until after the death of King Pepin (a.d. 768). 

As for the beer made by the Germanic races, which they drank besides 
mead (this was prepared by allowing honey, diluted with water, to fer- 
ment), nothing was known for a long time except the very meagre infor- 
mation left to us by Tacitus [Germania, 23) : ‘ Their drink is a liquid made 
from barley or w'heat — a brew fermented into a certain resemblance to 

According to the researches of Delbriick, we may assume that ancient 
Germanic beer was wine-like in character, that is to say, sour — not in 
the sense of beer that has gone bad — ^but rather on account of the taste 
of the ingredients from which it was made and the substances added to 
preserve it ; hops were not known at that time. 

Further passages in Tacitus, which however relate only to the manner 
of life of the Germanic races and to their pleasure in taking warm baths, 
lead Delbriick to infer that at that time vessels with a content of 500 
litres could be constructed, which served for mixing the ingredients. 

In order to heat the contents, hot stones were probably thrown into 
the vessel. Surface-coolers were apparently also known. The beer 
appears to have been stored in vessels with a wide aperture at the top, 
which were hermetically sealed — perhaps by means of resin used as a 
cetnent. Ancient Germanic vessels in clay have been found, to which 
a lid with a flange fits. In order to fasten the lid more securely by 
means of such flanges, holes were bored in them, and pegs of burnt clay 
contrived, to fit the holes. The temperature at which these vessels 
were kept when stored was, since they were buried in the ground, that 
of the earth — about 50® Fahr. We know that this is the correct tem- 
perature for beer brewed by surface fermentation. 

The question whether the Teutons of ancient Germany and other 
northern countries used germinated corn is difficult to answer. But 
since it has been proved that very many peoples of primeval times, in 
particular Oriental peoples, prepared malt, this does not seem impossible 
in the case of the Germans also. But it is irrelevant whether malt was 
prepared from germinated corn or not, for the production of sugar is 
not necessarily bound up with the germination of com. Natural corn 
may also be mashed. Delbriick assumes that the ancient Germanic 
beer, for the preparation of which the yeast was spontaneously supplied 
by the air, probably corresponded to the weU-known Berlin ‘ Weissbier ’ 
of our own time. 




'J'lierc seem to have been no enemies of alcohol among the peoples 
of antiquity ; on the contrary, intoxicating drinks were highly appre- 
ciated, and the gods of wine were held in reverence. Wine was prepared 
from all substances that allowed themselves to ferment, Harnack lias 
made up a list in which he shows that the Jews prepared intoxicating 
l)i‘verages from dates, figs, raisins, pomegranates, honey, and of course 
also from the grape-vine. Herodotus (II, 93) narrates that the Baby- 
lonians also drank palm wine. The god of wine was celebrated in Greece 
and Rome by special festivals, in which feelings ran so high that there 
have probably never in later times been occasions which could compare 
with them in immorality, riotous behaviour, and extreme debauchery.' 
This predilection for alcohol, which existed throughout the whole of 
antiquity, is not affected by the fact that wine drinking was forbidden 
among some peoples, as, for example, the desert tribes of the Rechabites, 
and that in some religious decrees we find abstinence prescribed for 
priests, women, and others. This preference for wine of course led to 
the cultivation of the grape-vine ; the preparation of the drink itself 
was developed with very particular care. This in its turn led to the 
perfection of the technical apparatus connected with the manufacture 
of wine. The number of vineyards was particularly great in Ancient 
Egypt, where even at the time of the Old Kingdom (3900-3000 b.c.) 
no fewer than six kinds of wine were known. The vines were trained 
up on lattice works, or on palisades which carried trellises at the top, 
such as is still the custom in Southern countries nowadays, Tjhe 
vines were guarded by watchers, who chased away the birds. At 
harvest-time the grapes were collected in basketS) and the leaves, 
were left for the goats, who ate them directly from the stalks. The 
next process consisted in pressing the grapes; this was usually done 
by means of the feet. The grapes were turned out into a large container 
made of wood from the acacia, provided at the side with holes through 
which the juice could escape. Ropes were fixed above this container 
to the ceiling of the room, from which men who carried out the pressing 
suspended themselves wdth their hands. In some of these wine presses, 
these ropes w^ere replaced by wooden beams attached to pillars. The 
treading on the grapes was continued so long as juice flowed out, and the 
last residue of juice was extracted by placing the gi'ape-skins in a long 
sack which was made of woven reeds or canvas, provided with loops at 
each end. One loop was fastened to one of the two vertical beams of a 
large wooden framework, whereas a stick was thrust through the other, 
which could be turned round, so as to squeeze up the bag, and cause th'' 
last remains of the grape-juice to flow out. Great power wms applied in 
turning the stick, as is shown by the strength of the wooden framework, 
and also by the fact that on the pictures which have been preseiwed, 
we see three men twisting the stick simultaneously (Fig. 170). Th'' 
wine was then filled into large stone jugs,,, in which it was allowed to 
1 A gross exaggeration. — Trans. 


ferment. But large dishes also appear to have been used. for fermenta- 
tion purposes, which were provided with a lip, so that the lees remained 
behind when the liquor was poured off. It was then kept in stone or 
clay vessels which resembled amphorae in form, but which were often 
sharpened below, so that they could be bored into the ground of the wine 
cellar, and could thus stand firmly. Besides this, stone and wooden 
rings were used ; vessels were placed in such to prevent them falling over. 
The vessels were closed by means of stone or clay stoppers of very varied 
form. But they all exhibit a wide rim, which fitted over the rim of the 
vessel. By smearing the surface of contact of the stoppers and the rim 
of the ve.ssel with clay, resin or gypsum, the ancients attempted to 

Fig. 170,— -Preparation of Wine in Egypt (mural painting in Thebes) 

Above ; Plucking and collecting the grapes in baskets. Below and on the right : Pressing the grapes by treading 
with the feot. Above on the right : Malang the wine clear by filteri^ (To the author it seeins more probable, judging 
by the size of the vessels, and also from the person on the left who is stirring something in the vessel, that this picture 
deals with the preparation and filtering of additional ingredients for the wine. But perhaps it is the boiling up of the 
must, which was so much favoured in antiquity, that is here represented.) Below on the left ; Pressing out the remains 
of grapes. On the right ; Juice is being filled into pitchers 

obtain an air-tight seal. The stamp of the owner was impressed on the 
substance used for sealing the vessel. In all of the wine-jars still pre- 
served from the ancient Egyptians, we find at the bottom a resinous 
or asphalt-like substance, which was perhaps used for preserving the 
wine, but perhaps also — as later among the Romans — to obtain a d^lnite 

Among the Greeks and Romans too the maxim of Pindar, oqlgxov 
Hev ‘Sdcng, was colourless theory, which is easily recognized from the fact 
that the ode which begins with these words was performed for the first 
time in order to celebrate King Hiero of Syracuse at a feast in which wine 
flowed in abundance. 


The greatest care was devoted to the cultivation of the vine, and to 
ennobling its qualities. In general, the technical part of preparing wine 
corresponded with that practised by the Egyptians. The grapes were 
likewise pressed out by means of the foot, but— particularly later — special 
presses were used, the construction of which is described in detail in the 
Section on the Extraction of Oils (see pages 110-115). 

The juice was then passed through a sieve into a large vat or clay 
vessel [dolium] in which it fermented. The juice which was obtained 
before pressing out the grape-skins distinguished itself by having a higher 
jjercentage of sugar than the other acids ; it was called proiopum, and 
was allowed to ferment by itself. The juice from the grape-skins yielded 
a wine of poorer quality. In order to purify the wine, eggs were added. 
It was then filled into clay vessels or into leather skins, which were often 
of considerable size. For example, at a feast of Ptolemy Philadelphus, 
a skin made of panther-hides and filled with fine old wine was brought to 
the table, which had a length of 17 metres (18 yds.) and a width of 7 
metres (7^ yds.) . The fermenting vessels also were often of considerable 
capacity, amounting at times to over 500 litres. When fermentation was 
completed, they often served for stoidng the wine which was to be used 
soon afterwards. Wines of better quality, which were to be stored for 
a longer time, were later filled into wooden ve.ssels. Before the latter 
came into existence, the wine was filled into smaller amphorae, provided 
with two handles, the inside of which had been covered with pitch or 
wax to make them watertight. They were sealed with a clay cover, 
which was fastened on by means of gypsum or pitch. Like the Egyp- 
tians, so also the Greeks and Romans mixed all sorts of ingredients into 
the wine. In Greece it was particularly the resin of the Greek pine 
which was added ; this was supposed to make the wine keep better. The 
importance that was attached to this ingredient becomes evident when 
we recall that the Bacchic thyrsus always carries a pine-cone. Very 
early in Crete gypsum was scattered over the grapes to preserve them. 
Aristotle reports that wines were dried in skins, and then taken out in 
lumps, which were dissolved in water for drinking purposes. Other 
ingredients which were used were the needle-shaped leaves of cypresses, 
finely-divided myrtle berries, bitter almonds, honey, shells, gall-nuts, 
ashes from the vine, as well as all kinds of resin, of which, some were more 
and some were less valued. (Pliny, XIV, 122-128.) For example, 
the resin of the sea-pine, which grows in Spain, was regarded with but 
little favour by the Romans, as it gave the wine a very bitter taste and 
unpleasant smell. In the east Roman provinces, the resin from the 
terebinth or turpentine tree was preferred. Pliny (XIV, 123) recommends 
Cyprian resin for lining the interiors of the vessels. 

Such ingredients appear to have been added chiefly because the need 
was felt to do something to make the wine keep better. The wines often 
became poisonous owing to the action of baciUi, which produced rapid 
decomposition ; and as the reason for this had not yet been discovered, 
the ancients did not know how to guard against it. Their method of 
working was, indeed, rather unclean. As ColumeUa reports, even the 



iniivSt had to be boiled up so that it would keep at least until it was sold ! 
As the boiling was effected in leaden vessels, the must {defrutum) natu- 
rally also contained lead. But this must was added to the wines of 

inferior quality, which 
had already fermented, 
in order to make them 
more appetizing. Hoff- 
mann, who treated wine 
in the manner prescribed 
by Columella, found from 
his researches that 390 
milligrams of lead were 
taken up in two urns of 
mountain wine ; into the 
same quantity of valley 
wine, 582 milligrams of 
lead, and into bad must, 
781 milligrams of lead, 
were dissolved. Consider- 
ing, however, that poison- 
ous lead salts such as niinium (red lead) were also added and that the 
cement used to close the wine vessels was prepared — according to Cato 
— by boiling up syrup from the must {sapa) with iris powder in lead 
or bronze vessels, we are not 
surprised that the wines of 
the ancients often contained 
great quantities of poisonous 
acetate of lead. In cool 
weather, negus [caldum) was 
prepared from the wine, 
being again boiled in leaden 
vessels. Accordinglywhenwe 
read of the many symptoms 
of poisoning that occurred 
after the feasts in antiquity, 
and when we learn of 
various Emperors being 
poisoned, we, in the light of 
modern medical science, are 
probably correct in regard- 
ing these alleged political 
assassinations and wholesale 
poisonings as nothing more 
than ptomaine or lead 
poisoning. The detailed 
researches of Robert confinn this. Not only did people drink wine con- 
taining lead, but they also ate meat which they did not know suffidently 
how to preserve from decay. 


For the rest, wine was usually mixed with water, but very often, and 
on particular occasions, it was drunk undiluted. Data about the pro- 
portions of dilution with water are found for example in Homer, according 
to which Maron, the priest of ApoUo, placed before Odysseus a wine which 
was mixed with 20 parts of {Odyssey, IX, 209), and from which so 
delicious an aroma escaped that it was impossible to refrain from drinking. ^ 
These data, as Rhousopoulos has shown, are to be accepted with caution. 
The alcoholic content of the original natural wine did not probably 
exceed 14 per cent, by volume (equals 13 per cent, by weight). After the 
mixing, there would have been at most 0'6 per cent, by weight of alcohol ; 
that is, the beverage could have neither tasted nor smelled like wine ! 
We may assume that in antiquity also hardly more than an equal 
quantity of water was added to the wine ; in most cases it probably 
was less. 2 

Vinegar was obtained by using sour wine, or allowing wine to turn 
sour for the purpose. There is nothing in the technical method by 
which the ancients prepared vinegar that calls for particular remark. 

There arose from the mixing-howl an odour sweet past all telling; then 
none had a mind to refrain '. 

® Wine was often mixed with three or more times its bulk of water, see Athen- 
aeus, X, 27 (p. 426b) et seqq. — Trans. 


T he branch of the mechanical arts we are about to discuss is a 
province of applied organic chemistry which is intimately con- 
nected with numerous other branches, such as agriculture, the 
chemistry of nutrition, methods of preservation and the technical art of 
illumination, so that several of its departments might just as well have 
been discussed in the chapters devoted to these subjects. But as it is 
essentially built up on the use and manufacture of certain special deriva- 
tives of the organic acids of oils and fats, we shall consider it here as a 
separate subject ; this method of grouping is still in general use in chemical 


During the whole of antiquity, the cultivation of the olive-tree pros- 
pered exceedingly, for it yielded the oil which was so necessary for prepar- 
ing foods, for filling lamps, for oiling or anointing the body, for cleaning 
purposes, for producing perfumes and cosmetics of every kind. This oil 
was the sort which we, who have such an abundant choice of oils, nowa- 
days call olive oil. Even in very early Egyptian manuscripts we find the 
mention of the olive tree and the oil obtained from it, both of which are 
called ‘ Tat fin the records of the 8th Dynasty (that is, about 2300 b.c.). 
The.monuments of the i8th Dynasty (about 1550 b.c.) give representations 
of the leaves and fruits of the’ olive-tree. In the tombs of Egyptian kings 
of the 2oth Dynasty (1100 b.c.) branches of the olive-tree and olive kernels 
have been found, TheophrUvStus {Hist, plant, iv, 2, 8) and Strabo (XVII, 
1 , 35) mention that it occurs in Egypt. The Bible also tells of Noah’s dove 
which returned with an olive-branch in its beak; and even nowadays 
there are trees on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, which probably 
stood there at the time of Christ. In Greece, the olive-tree, as is estab- 
lished beyond doubt, was known in the time of Homer. The number of 
writers who mention it in later, times is so great that it is impossible to 
enumerate them. 

The extraction of oil from the olive-tree was probably carried out in the 
same way among all peoples of antiquity. From discoveries on the Island 
of Thera it appears to be established that the oil press which originated in 
Egypt or in the Orient later became introduced into Greece. Besides olive 
oil 'other oils were probably also obtained by the same process, in par- 
ticular the pleasant-smelling unguents which were imported at later 
times from the Orient both into Greece and into Rome. 



-Vertical Mill or Edge-rollers {Tmpchim) 
-for pressing out oil 
' Found in Boscorealc 

1 Also tfapeius. The term varies-; ■ likewise in tlie plural. 

Fig. 173. — Beating down the 
Olives from the Trees by 
means of Canes 

In order to extract the oil, the fruits were picked when they had 
attained the right degree of ripeness, or rather of unripeness. At the 
present day, particularly in Greece, oil is sometimes extracted from the 
olives that have already fallen, and have already partly begun to ferment. 
Consequently it is not seldom of bad quality. But better qualities of oil 
are also pressed out of fruits that are not 
fully ripe. In antiquity the unripe fruits were 
also used in order to obtain an oil of particularly 
good quality and pleasant taste and smell, 
both for nutritious and medicinal purposes. 

According to the reports of Dioscorides [De 
mat. med. 1, 29) this oil was called ojKpdxLov, 
because it was produced from unripe fruits 
{d/iq)ui == unripe fruits) . When the fruits could 
not be plucked, they were beaten down by 
means of canes (Fig. 173) . They were then put 
into the oil mills, in which they were first 
crushed, in order to release them from the 
kernels. (Our description is based on the re- 
searches and results of Bliimner.) For this 
purpose, a mill was used, which appears to have been built similarly 
to that used for grinding corn. Supported on a lower fixed stone was a 
second stone which had a hole bored through the centre, to allow it to 
rotate on a vertical pivot. Other mills were also in use, which consisted 
of a stone tub in which 
there were vertically- 
placed stones which 
could rotate ; and these 
represent the arrange- 
ment which modern 
technical science calls 
edge-rollers or vertical 
mills. When they first 
appeared is doubtful. 

They were used by the 
Romans and were 
known by the name 
trapetum.'^ The Greeks 
used a similar arrange- 
ment for pressing out 
wine ; whether they 
also used it to press out 
oil, is not known. The 
trapetum, of which 
several specimens and descriptions StiU extant, consists of a trough 
(Fig. 174). from the middle of whi(^ a round plinth or pillar projects, the 
whole being made of one piece of .stone. The centre of this pillar has a 


vertical iron pivot on which a horizontal, axle turns. This axle rests on 
the pivot, with a special case made of wood and covered with metal plates. 
In order that the case may not shift upwards and jerk off the pivot, 
which is very easily possible if the mortar becomes stuck through foreign 
matter, the pivot is sometimes pierced by a hole. An iron pin is stuck 
througli this hole. On the horizontal axle there now rest two crushing- 
stones which are shaped plano-convex, in such a way that their plane side 
is turned towards the pillar, whereas the convex side fits into the corres- 
pondingly hollowed out inner wall of the mortar. The crushing-stones 
were also held fast by means of a case provided with holes which had been 
bored through, and which allowed them to be fixed to corresponding holes 
in the shaft l: 3 y means of a bolt. 

Many of these vertical mills also had special devices in the form of 
interior parts which could be attached to the pivot in order to raise or 
low^er the stones. The fastening of the horizontal axle and the shape of 
the pivot were subject to small alterations, so that we find differences in 
these parts of the tyapeta that have been found and described. The 
whole machine had to be so arranged that the crushing-stones exerted only 
a gentle pressure. The skin and the pulp alone were to be crushed, 
while the kernels were to remain whole ; oil was not yet to flow out. 
That is why exact dimensions still exist for each individual part, large 
as well as small The dimensions of such vertical mills are carefully 
recorded by Cato {de agric., 20-22 : 136, 6-7) ; and he describes the 
adjustment of the crushing-stones down to the smallest detail Besides 
the trapetum, there were also a number of other devices for crushing the 
olives, of which, however, we have no information. 

The substance which came out of the mill, and consisted of crushed 
olives, was sorted out, in order to remove the kernels. This was followed 
by the pressing out of the kernel-less fruits. Very different devices were 
employed for this purpose. Originally they were probably placed in a 
kind of basket, and pressed out by placing stones on the basket. The oil 
ran out between the wickerwork of the basket, and was collected in a 

vessel placed below. 
Later, the method was 
made more perfect. The 
substance — or the wicker- 
work containing it-— -was 
placed between wooden 
boards, and several such 
layers were placed on a 

A long lever beam was 
then fixed above, which 
was weighted in front with 
large stones, fastened by 
means of cords. By 
climbing up on the lever 
beams and jerking with 

Fig. 175. — Oil Press with its Press-beam 

On Uia right is a stool on which the oil fnilts are afraotfed in layers with 
intervening- layers of wooden boards or woodcsn discs {?), wbici are per- 
lorated, or perhaps provided with cbaiuaels. Above thara fe the press- 
beam, which is weighted at its free end by means of two stones, and 
on whidr a man is jerking his weight, while a seoc^ maa is striving 
to increase the power of the lever by mearB of the weight of his Irody. 
The oil runs out over the outer sides of the layeti into the stool, which 
is furnished with a rim or a concavity, and thence by means of a tap 
into a collectiug vessel. Picture on a G-r^ 


the weight of the l)ody, the effect was intensified. The oil ran out 
into the lower frame, and from here probably along grooves, into a 
larger gutter, the opening of which lay 


pulled down by j erking with the weight of the body. Later still, the screw 
was introduced. There arose a new t5rpe of oil press, in which the board 
resting on the olives was pressed against its base by means of a screw, 
lliis press probably corresponded in general to those represented in Fig, 
240 except that it appears also to have been used with one screw alone. 
At any rate. Heron of Alexandria describes an olive press of this kind in his 
Mechanics {III, 20), and this tallies with one described by Pliny (XVIII, 

Fig, 178. — ^Wedge-press (for pressing out Oil) 

Mural painting in Herculaneuiu 

317). From Pliny’s writings it appears that cases weighted with stones 
were also used for pressing out oil. In Herculaneum, as well as in the 
house of the Vettii at Pompeii, wall pictures exhibit Cupids striking 
blows against wedges, between which the substance to be pressed out lies. 
A strong framework of beams serves as a buttress and holds together the 
alternating layers of wedges and oil-mass (Figs. 177, 178). In many oil- 

Fig. 179, — Oil-press Works in Stabiae (horizontal section) 

G, vertical mill {trapeium). ghi, depressions for receiving the posts for the press apparatus. H, large receptacles 
shut off from the middle of the chamber by means of walls («). file pressed-out oil was collected in these receptacles. 
The lowest point of the inclined floor is at B, where the oil flows out, and is conducted by leaden conduits into the 
receptacles c, from which it can be drawn, /./. are ledges on which probably the pitchers were placed into which the 
oil was filled from c ; and their inclined upper surface allowed the oil that flowed over to return to E 

press works, the floor was sloped so that the oil flowing on to it collected 
in receptacles from which it could be drawn as required (Fig. 179). In a 
similar way, oil was extracted from nuts — from almonds— -from sesame, 
various kinds of palm, mastic oil, and so forth. ^ 

In order to preserve the oils, they were then mixed partly with salt, 

1 See also Herodotus (I, 94), in which a process for extracting oil by roasting 
and boiling out the fruit is mentioned. 



aiu.1 partly and resin, which caused them to retain their smell. 

'I'lie extraction of purely ethereal oils was impossible, as the modern 
process of distillation was not then known. All sorts of other substances 
were, also mixed with the oils, such as vinegar, fennel, must and honey. 

Tlie ]>ioma,ns obtained swgms, probably a rarely saponifiable ethereal oil 
from blossoms, as well as the corpus, which is obtained from fruits, and is 
always saponifiable. It was used for making ointments by adding sucus, 
and it was made to smell pleasantly by adding oil extracted from buds. 

For preparing ointments, there were used, besides oil from fruits, also 
animal fats — in particular fat from wool (called oimmog or otavnov, also 
oiavm], by the Greeks, and oesypus or oesypum by the Romans). This fat 
obtained from wool, after it had played an important part in antiquity, 
both as a medicine and as a cosmetic, sank into complete oblivion for 
several centuries until recently when it was introduced into medicine again 
by Liebreich, and is generally known under the name ‘ Lanoline Its 
preparation is known to us from reports by Dioscorides and Pliny ; the 
Ix'st method of preparing it — according to Pliny — was as follows : The 
freshly shorn wool was placed into a bronze vessel filled with water, and 
the mass was heated up by means of a gentle fire. It was then cooled, 
and the fat swimming on top was collected in an earthenware vessel. 
This was repeated once or twice. The fat that had been scooped off was 
then thoroughly washed with water, strained through a piece of cloth, and 
exposed to the sun until it was white and transparent. This substance, 
which was most valued when it was obtained from the wool of Attic sheep, 
was held to be a remedy for various ills. Besides fat from wool, other 
animal-fats — in particular goose-fat, butter, and so forth™ -were used for 
all sorts of purposes, particularly as cosmetics. The reason for this was 
probably because fat obtained from wool, which, according to Ovid 
(dfs ammidi, III, 213, and Remedia amoris, 354), was used to keep the skin 
tender and lustrous, very quickly became evil-smelling, by reason of its 
being insufficiently purified of albuminous material, which easily decom- 
poses. According to Ovid, it smelt like ‘ the table of Phineus soiled by 
the harpies h 


The oils and the fats were at first used in the raw state in which they 
were obtained by the processes of mechanical extraction just described. 
Chemical separation hy means of saponification was not known. In 
cases where chemical action perhaps really occurred, for example, in 
washing materials of raw wool by means of stale urine, by which tfie 
wool fat must have become decomposed owing to the action of ammonia, 
the ancients were not aware of it. When the resultant product, soap, 
became known, it was at first used for purposes other than cleansing. 
The method of cleaning woven and. spun materials is reported in the 
sections which deal with these subjects. Personal cleanliness was 
achieved by various means : the Jews used potash and soda (Pinner) ; 
the Greeks used bran, sand, ashes, and pumice stone ; the other peoples 


used similar materials, and also all sorts of ointments, especially oils, 
which they rubbed into the whole body, scraping off the excess (Fig. i8o). 
Particular importance attaches to the baths as a means of cleansing ; 
their preparation is described very early,- — ^indeed, by Homer (Bath of 
Odysseus in the home of the enchantress Circe—Odyssey, X, 358 seg.) : 

‘ And a foiu-th (handmaiden) bare water and kindled a great fire beneath the 
mighty cauldron. So the water waxed warm ; but when it boiled in the bright 
brazen vessel, she set me in a bath and bathed me with water from out a great 
cauldron, pouring it over head and shoulders, when she had mixed it to a pleasant 
warmth, till from my limbs she took away the consuming weariness. Now after 
she had bathed me and anointed me well with olive oil, and cast about me a fair 
mantle and a doublet. . . .’1 

According to Pliny (XXVIII, 191), soap itself is an invention of the 

Fig. 180, — ' The Apoxyomenos.’ The.' scraper’, an athlete who is cleansing himself by 
rubbing oil into liis skin and afterwards scraping it off with a strigil 
Marble copy taken from a bronze statue of Lysippus. Vatican Museum, Rome 

Gauls, who likewise, however, used it, not for purposes of cleaning, but 
as a means of embellishing the hair. It was produced from fats, particu- 
larly from that of goats, and from ashes (potash), chiefly from the ashes 
of the beech ; and here a saponification of the fat actually occurs. 
Pliny mentions two kinds of soap— a hard and a soft variety. Reddening 
the hair, as mentioned by Pliny, could hardly have been effected by the 
use of soap alone (see page 12 1). 

As elsewhere, so in Rome, soap was probably at first used as a means 
of cultivating the hair, and for medical purposes. Galen (a.d. 131-201) 
is the first to mention (XII, 170, 180) that soap served for washing. 2 
He expresses preference for German soap, and puts Gallic soap second. 
It exerts a softening effect, so he reports, and is used to remove dirt from 
the human body and clothes. The distinction between hard and soft 
soap which Galen makes, and which Pliny (loc, cit.) already mentions, is 
due to the fact that German soap, being a potash soap produced from the 

^ From the prose translation by Butcher and Lang. Macmillan & Co., London. 

2 Wrong ; it is mentioned by Tlieokritos, Idyll. XV, 30, some 450 years earlier, — 


asli of lln! bcccli, proved softer than Gallic soap, which, being made from 
the ash of sea- plants containing sodium salts, was a sodium soap, and con- 
sequently hard. The doctor Serenus Sammonicus, who lived in the third 
century a.d., and W'as Physician-in-Ordinary to the Empercjr Septimius 
Severus, mentions soap as a means of cleansing, but only in a poem which 
speaks of the treatment of various illnesses ; so that doubts which have 
been raised in various quarters seem to be justified. 

The varieties of products, besides soap, which were made from oils and 
fats, are innumerable. Even the ancient Egyptians prepared ointments 
having very different properties by mixing oils and fats with perfumes 
of every kind, which probably consisted of plant oils : these oils and fats 
had melting-points above ordinary temperatures, that is, they were 
solids. Perfumes obtained from the following vegetable .substances were 
universally popular: tree oil, rose oil, almond oil, sweet calamus, cin- 
namon, cassia, ladanum, incense, spikenard, se.same, laurel, marjoram, lily, 
isis, pomegranate,, amaravain, malabathrum, honey, oenanthe, 
resin from coniferous trees, and so forth. (Galen is our chief authority.) 

Besides being used in the form of ointments, perfumes were also used 
in the form of oils and powders. A much-favoured perfume in Rome was 
stmineum, which consi.sted of lilies, oil from beans, honey, cinnamon, 
and saffron (Pliny). In ancient Aquileia, a perfume was discoverecl 
during the work of excavation, the analysis of which by Majonica sliowed 
that it was a re.sin obtained from the Cretan cistus {Cisius creiinus). 

The use of cosmetics was very popular. Making up the face was 
practised by all ancient peoples, and the following words, in which the 
satirical Martial mocks at the Roman woman, probably applied to most 
of the women of antiquity. 

‘ Though you arc at home, Galla, and deck yourself in the midst of the .Suhura 
[a not over-re.spectable district of Rome], while your hair is abroad ; though you 
take out your teeth at night as you take off your silk frock, and sleep tucked 
away in a hundred vanity-boxes ; though you have not your own face for a bed- 
fellow ; still you wink at men under an eyelid which you took out of a drawer 
that same morning.’ {Epigr. ix, 37.) 

It has been proved that cosmetics were actually manufactured by 
the Eg5q)tians 4,400 years ago. At that time also, sticks of paint were 
made, which were probably of a fatty composition, although the existence 
of this fat can no longer be proved, as it has decomposed in the course 
of these thousands of years. This greasy cosmetic was poured into the 
hollow .stem of graminaceous plants, one jEinger thick, which were cut off 
just below a notch, so that this notch served to close up one end. The 
fat tliat was used was probably obtained from wool, but perhaps it also 
consisted of olive oil. We may infer this from the fact that the sticks 
of paint were carefully wrapped up in the fibres of plants and grasses. 
Besides this, the paint was kept in pots of fired clay, in vessels of alabaster 
and ivory. Cosmetics of a pasty consistency were packed up in leaves ; 
at any rate, some finds exhibit the impress of leaves from dicotyledons. 

Ancient Egyptian cosmetics have been frequently analysed. For 
example, A. von Baeyer has investigated several black cosmetics derived 


from the mummy tombs at Achim, which had served to colour the eyelids 
and the eyebrows ; and he has found that they consist of a mixture of 
lead sulphide and charcoal, and had without doubt been produced by 
combusting lead sulphate with charcoal. He believes that the Egyptians, 
in order to prepare the necessary lead sulphate, transformed lead (which 

was already known to them) by 
heating it in air to obtain galena 
(lead oxide), dissolving the latter 
in vinegar, and precipitating lead 
sulphate by the addition of alum. 
By combusting the lead sulphate 
with charcoal, one obtains — 
as Baeyer has proved by his 
own experiments — a product 
which exhibits the same proper- 
ties as the cosmetics that were 
under investigation. A green 
cosmetic which was also studied 
by Baeyer, and which belongs to 
the British Museum, consisted of 
verdigris and some resin. Salkow- 
sky, in his analysis of such cos- 
metics, also found lead sulphide present in most cases ; and in one par- 
ticular sample, he found mineral manganese. Ryssel believes that the 
mineral black-lead, which is likewise often found present in the black 
cosmetics but does not occur in Egypt itself, comes from Ispahan. In 
none of the samples in- 
vestigated was antimony 
ever found, although 
Berthelot’s researches 
make it certain that the 
Egyptians were ac- 
quainted with it. 

Later, the well-known 
Egyptologist, Ebers, as 
well as A. Wiedemann, 
presented to the Univer- 
sity Laboratory of Erlan- 
gen a series of cosmetics 
which had been exca- 
vated by Flinders Petrie 
from the tombs near Illa- 
hun, Kahun and Gurob. 

The cosmetics themselves were either fine powders of diverse colours, 
which under the microscope are shown to be either black crystals of the 
regular system, particles of quartz, remains of plants, fragments of green 
and red crystal, or they were in the form of cylindrical sticks as thick as a 
finger, which in consequence of having dried out for thousands of years, 

Fig. 182. — A Spoon for Cosmetics or Ointments, made 
of green glazed stone. On the handle is depicted a 
woman swimming between lotus flowers. The length is 
3 in. 

Berlin Museum, Egyptian. Department 

Fig. 1 81. — Egyptian Containers of Cosmetics 

On the left is a s.patula for taking out the cosmetic. 



exliibit longitudinal cracks reaching almost to the middle. The cements 
used to make these cylindrical sticks could not be determiiu'd, as of course 
the fats had become decomposed in the course of time, and the presence 
of resin could not be detected. The analysis of the mineral constituents 
showed that black lead was mostly used for the black cosmetics, and in 
rarer cases, antimonite. As in addition lead sulphate was nearly always 
j)resent, often in considerable quantity, there is reason for assuming that 
the black lead was either subjected to slight heating, or became oxidized 
under the action of some moist substance used as a cement. As neither 
of the ores mentioned occurred naturally in Egypt, they were probably 
derived from the great ore deposits in India, by way of Arabia. Pyroliisite 
(mineral manganese) was also used, but seldom alone ; in the same way, 

Fig, 183. — Containers (Egyptian) for Perfumers, Cosmetics, Pencils, etc. 

copper oxide prepared from the carbonate by heating, and also protoxide 
of iron, occurred relatively seldom. 

Clays containing a high percentage of iron were used for preparing 
brown cosmetics. The green cosmetics were either glass pastes, or else 
naturally occurring silicates, which were finely powdered and mixed wth 
basic copper carbonate. These green cosmetics, besides serving as 
preventives against eye diseases, perhaps also, as suggested by Hille, 
served to colour the white of the eye ; but probably they were only used 
to paint the lid of the eye. The orange-red cosmetic used to colour the 
finger-nail was prepared from the plant henna {Lythracee Lawsonia Inermis 
L.). The coarse powder which is obtained from its leaves, stalks and 
buds, has been found in numerous ancient Egyptian tombs. Since the 
juice a.ssumes an orange-red colour only when alkali has been added, it is 
probable that soda or burnt lime was used to produce this colour. 

In contrast with the versatility of the Egyptians, the Jews were 
acquainted with only one cosmetic, namely, grey mineral antimony, 


which served to increase the brilliance and fire of the eyes. This cosmetic 
was called ‘ Puch and reference is made to it in Jeremiah iv. 30 — 
. And though thou markest thine eyes with painting/^ It is to be 
assumed that this grey mineral antimony (antimony sulphide, SbaSg) was 
brought from Arabia in caravans (Pinner). 

The Greeks sought to beautify their bodies more by gymnastics than 
by means of cosmetics. In pre-classical times, however, they painted 
their whole bodies. ^ Later, the red extracts from plants mentioned on 
page 189 (organic dyes) served as a red cosmetic; still later, cinnabar 
(native red sulphide of mercury, HgS) was used. The white cosmetic 

Fig. 184. — Egyptian Toilet Case made of Reeds (about 2000 b.c.) 

Height, 13 in.; width, 8 in.; length, ii in. Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

was made of white lead. In trade it occurred in the form of round 
tablets, as is shown by discoveries from Athenian tombs dating back to 
the third century b.c. To remove hairs, orpiment (AsgSs) was used 
(Rhousopoidos) . 

The ai:t of using cosmetics, as weU as the manufacture of cosmetics, 
reached its zenith among the Romans. A white cosmetic was provided 
by the finely divided excrement of crocodiles, earth of Chios, chalk, and, 
above all, white lead. The red colours were made of niddle (red chalk), 

1 Painting = Puch in the German version of the Bible. 

** I do not know on what evidence this esxtraordinary statement is based.*— 



cinnabar, ininiuni (red lead) and archil (or orchil). We read in Martial : 

‘ Lycoris, who is bkcker than the colour of the mulberry when it falls 
from the tree, thinks herself beautiful when she covers her face with 
white lead.’ {Epigr. i, 72, 5.) 

Dioscorides and Pliny mention that all lead preparations (and hence 
also cosmetics) are poisonous ; the recognition of this fact, however, seems 
to have been no obstacle to their use. The black cosmetic used for 
accentuating the eyebrows was made either of soot, lead, or powdered 
antimony sulphide (SbgSa). This precious co.smetic, which was also used 
l)y the ancient Egyptians, was even at that distant period often adul- 
terated with lead sulphide (Robert). Particularly designing ladies used 
more expensive cosmetics, which were prepared from the ash of date 
kernels, spikenard or burnt rose-leaves. The men of Rome also used 
paint, but only on special occasions. The face of the victor who marched 
into the capital was smeared with red lead (minium). For the rest, the 
adornment of the men was limited mostly to wearing beauty patches 
{spknia) . The hair was coloured black or blonde ; black by the means 
just mentioned, or else by leeches which had undergone decomposition 
for a fair length of time in an earthenware pot containing wine and 
vinegar. A blonde or red effect was obtained by means of the soap 
imported from Germany, which was sold in the form of round cakes. 
Martial calls these cakes ‘ Mattiac balls ' after the Germanic settlement 
Mattium, where they were manufactured. {Epigr. xiv, 27.) This is 
nowadays believed to be the site of the present-day village Metze or 
Maden, near Gudensberg. 

Ovid complains that this colouring matter was injurious to the hair. 
Probably an excess of alkali in it acted destructively. The fact that the 
Romans also knew how to make more harmless colouring pomades is 
proved by the analysis of a sample excavated near Ticino, which was 
found unimpaired in the vessel in which it was stored. According to 
Reutter, it consisted of a mixture of beeswax, fat, resin from the storax 
tree, and oil of turpentine. The presence of the potassium salt of tartaric 
acid leads us to conclude that it was moistened with wine. The yellow 
colour was produced by adding henna, this pomade being obviously 
used for colouring the hair blonde. In the times of greatest luxury, the 
hair was coloured with gold-dust. 


T he most important methods nowadays used for preserving were 
also practised by the ancients ; that is, cold storage, salting, 
drying, and excluding the air. Just as now, cold served not 
only for preserving, but also for producing an artificial lowering of 
temperature. In this way, apart from preserving, processes of pro- 
ducing cold also developed, which were based partly on methods of 
conduction, partly on bringing about vaporization, as well as by 
lowering the temperature by dissolving substances. 

The art of refrigeration is very old indeed. In the Shih king, the 
ancient Chinese collection of lyrics, we find an older section, earlier than 
the first millennium b.c., which prescribes religious ceremonies for filling 
and emptying ice-cellars. Unfortunately, nothing is known about the 
construction of these ice-cellars, nor in particular whether non-conducting 
layers were used as a protection against heat. The Jews, moreover, used 
snow for cooling their beverages. In the book of Proverbs, xxv, 13, we 
read—-' As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messen- 
ger to them who sent him ; for he refresheth the soul of his masters.’ 
The Greeks and the Romans, particularly the latter, constructed their 
snow-cellars in accordance with important technical rules. They were 
large pits which were covered with grass, chaff, or (according to Seneca) 
with earth, manure, or branches of trees ; so the protection against heat 
was effected by the correct choice of non-conducting substances. More- 
over, the snow was tightly pressed together before being introduced into 
the pits. As snow becomes ice under pressure, it is not improbable that 
artificial ice was at that time made by this process. The snow had often 
to be fetched from far away ; perhaps pressure was used to economize 
space and so to facilitate transport. No further details are known to us. 

Plutarch enters into a detailed discussion about the protection fur- 
nished by chaff against the melting of the snow ; and from his reflections 
it is easily inferred that the snow was also wrapped in thick cloths in 
order to keep it longer. Moreover, the method of preserving just 
described was used, according to Athenaeus, by Alexander the Great. 
Snow was added directly to beverages. The water resulting from it 
when it melted was used for the same purpose, after it had been run 
through cloths or sieves in order to purify it. As mentioned by Pliny 
(XXXI, 21), the drinking of strongly cooled beverages produced illnesses 
of very different kinds. When this circumstance became known, the 
beverages were cooled from without, by placing the vessels in snow — ■ 
an invention which is attributed to the Emperor Nero (Pliny, XXXI, 23) ; 



so that we have to regard Nero as the discoverer of the champagne- 
cooler ! Galen reports that Nero had also made the observation that 
water which had been previously heated cooled more rapidly than 
ordinary water. This observation, which, by the way, had already been 
mentioned by Aristotle {Meteorologica, 1, 12), is correct. Ordinary water 
contains air and carbon dioxide, which retard cooling. Boiling the water 
drives off both of these gases. 

For the rest, according to Galen, more extensive methods were used 
in Egypt to produce an artificial cooling of water. Water which had 
been previously warmed was placed into shallow earthenware dishes, 
which w^ere allowed to stand on roofs protected from the wdnd during 
the night. The next morning they were placed into moist hollows dug 
out of the ground, and covered with moist leaves. So that in this case 
ample use is made of the cold produced by vaporization, which, as in the 
gullah (see the section ‘ Ceramic Art ’), w'as used from the earliest times 
very appropriately for producing cool drink. According to the reports 
of Athenaeus, these earthenware dishes were moistened on the out- 
side the whole night long by slaves, in order to increase the amount 
of vaporization. As to the amount of cooling effected, opinions differ 
widely ; also as to whether the sun, in consequence of more rapid 
vaporization, or the .shade, in consequence of vaporization in conjunction 
with the lower temperature, was more effective. Dollinger calculates 
that a vessel of 5 litres content, of which one-tenth is vaporized at a tem- 
perature of 33° C., incurs a loss of 58*5 calories of heat, which would 
correspond to a cooling of 12® C. (22° Fahr.) ; this would however never 
be actually reached, as some of the heat is furnished not by the water, 
but by the surrounding air, and since heat enters through the opening of 
the vessel. Von Luschan, on the other hand, was able to cool water or tea 
at 40° C, by 25“ C. Experiments designed to determine the maximum 
possible amount of cooling, and to check theoretical calculations, were 
to have been carried out by the author himself in Egypt. 'I'hese were 
intended for the winter of 1914-15, but had to be cancelled owing to the 
War, No record h^is been passed down to indicate that ice was pro- 
duced in this w'ay ; nevertheless the ancient Indians were familiar in 
very far- distant times with a process for making ice artificially. It 
depended on the simultaneous action of vaporization and radiation. 
Shallow ve.ssels filled with water and made of porous clay were placed 
on rice-straw in small holes in the ground, and left overnight. The 
water then freezes on account of the great amount of radiation and simul- 
taneous vaporization ; the next morning the vessels are covered with 
ice. This method of producing ice was probably prevalent among 
many peoples. An accident has revealed to us that it w£ls also known 
to the Esthonians about a.d. 800. The cooling of air by means of 
fountains, jets d’eau, and by pouring water on marble tiles, which was 
very popular in antiquity, likewise represents a method of making use 
of the loss of heat due to vaporization. To what extent of heat 
by solution was used is not known. It seems fairly certain that it 
was applied. On the one hand, this emerges from the Indian, wau'k 


‘ Paiichatantra which dates from the fourth century A. D. and states: 
' Water is cool when it contains salt.’ Moreover, when certain salts 
(in particular saltpetre), which, were well known to the ancients and 
much used by them, are dissolved in water, considerable cooling occurs ; 
and it is to be assumed that this did not remain unnoticed. The con- 
duction of heat was also used for producing artificial cooling — although 
in a very peculiar manner. Persons placed cold-blooded animals about 
themselves, and used cold stones, in order to keep themselves cool. An 
account of the Egyptian women of the fifth century b.c, tells us that 
they used these means and also the method involving vaporization in 
order to make their existence more pleasant ; ‘ they had the couch in 
their litters covered with a thick layer of green leaves and flowers, on 
which they stretched themselves out, covered with only a thin linen 
tunic. The curtains were drawn, and then wet with cold water. In 
addition, they rolled about their necks and arms two or three live adders, 
and in each hand they took a quartz .sphere, a mineral whose temper- 
ature remains constantly below that of the surrounding air.’ 


The fact tha.t cold was used in antiquity for purposes of preserving is 
clear from various data — above aU, from ancient Roman cookery books, 
in which it is advised to cover certain dishes, especially brawns, with 
snow. As these are particularly prone to decay, and as the snow can 
hardly have been regarded as a delicacy, we can interpret this only as a 
method of preserving. Other methods of pre.serving food-stuffs con- 
sisted in drying them in the air, in smoking them, in salting them, and in 
excluding the air. The latter was performed chiefly by placing the food- 
stuffs in oil (Columella, De u rustica, V, 8). Besides this, however, the 
food was also placed in vinegar, in salt, and in salt water {loc, cit.). Salt- 
ing seems to have been used universally. Herodotus (IV, 53) reports of 
the river Borysthenes which flows in the land of the Scythians : 

' At its mouth there is an enormous natural salt-pan, and it yields 
great sea-beasts without bones for salting purposes, which they call 
aniakaioi,^ and many other wonderful things.’ 

.Preserved fish from ancient Egyptian times have remained unimpaired 
up to the present day. The method of preserving was certainly a little 
complicated. In the case of the ancient Egyptians, the particular fish 
used was one that resembled a perch and was regarded as sacred, the 
Lates Niloiicus. Great quantities of this fish were found in a sandy desert 
stretching east of the town Esna ; they have also been found in exca- 
vated tombs. The fish were wrapped round with linen strips, and were 
then placed into water of the Egyptian lakes, which contain much 
soda, and were left in contact with the water for some time. (The 
researches of French savants prove that sodium was present in some 
foiin ; whether this sodium arises from the use of soda or of ordinary salt 
seems doubtful in the light of the more recent investigations into the 
preparation of mummies-— which we shall presently discuss.) The fish 
^ A sort of sturgeon. — Trans, 


were then packed into a mixture of saiid and clay, and once again placed 
in brine. In some cases they still look nowadays as if they had just come 
out of the water. The skin is shiny and has colour, and in the eyes one 
can still clearly discern the iris. This method of preserving is a process 
in which pickling, excluding the air (clay), as well as drying, aided by the 
exceptional dryness of the Egyptian climate, probably acted in concert 
to produce this result. 


The greatest perfection in the art of preserving is probably exemplified 
in ancient Egyptian mummies. They have formed the object of many 
investigations, and yet, up to the present, it has not been possible to 
clear up every detail of their preparation. Nevertheless, more recent 
researches and analyses have at least proved that the account given by 
Herodotus (II, 86), as well as that given by Diodorus, is in general true. 
As the oldest of all known mummies probably date back to about 3,000 
B.C., it might seem at first sight as if the process practised by the ancient 
Egyptians was appropriate for allowing complete corpses to be pre- 
served for thousands of years. As W. A. Schmidt rightly points out from 
his researches, this view is erroneous. We shall revert to the results of 
these investigations below, and shall remark here only that in the mum- 
mies, blood or hasmoglobin and its derivatives have never been proved 
to be present, What has been preserved is only the skeleton and the 
skin, as well as the nails, hairs, sinews and bones. Muscular tissue has 
shrunken up to a small mass, and represents only a fibrous material 
resembling tobacco. Only in the more recent mummies, the so-called 
‘ Coptic ’ mummies of the fifth century a.d., has the muscular tissue, 
according to Schmidt, been sufficiently preserved to justify one's speaking 
of preserving the flesh. 

Mummies were made (so Herodotus and Diodorus state) by the follow- 
ing three methods, any one of which was used, according to the wealth of 
the person to be embalmed. The first process cost one talent (about 
£225) ; the second, 20 minae (about £75) ; the third was very cheap. 
In the first method, the brain was partly removed through the nostrils 
by means of a bent piece of iron, and partly by pouring in substances of 
which we are ignorant. A sharp Ethiopian stone was then used to make 
an incision in the side, through which the entrails were removed. They 
were then cleaned with palm-wine and sprinkled with pulverized aro- 
matics. The abdomen was filled with finely-divided myrrh, with cassia, 
and with any other perfumery, except incense, and then sewn up again. 
Hie coipse was next placed for 70 days in natrum (see page 127). At the 
end of this time the body was washed, wrapped round with fine linen 
from Byssus, and painted with gum. The corpse was then placed in a 
wooden box, which followed the shape of the mummy. This box was 
placed upright against a wall. 

The second method of making mummies was as follows ; Syringes 
were filled with oil fromcedaiw^ood.^ The body was not opened, and the 
^Cedar-tree pitch 

Figs. 1S5 and 186. — Egyptian Instruments for making Mummies 

The same general principles were applied to embalming sacred ani- 
mals. These processes were, however, often modified slightly. Thus, 
many types of resin, asphalt, pitch, aromatic waters, expensive oils, 
flowers, and so forth, were often used. According to researches carried 


(,)ut by Elliott Smitli on the mummies of forty-four priests and priestesses 
of the 2ist Dynasty (eleventh century b.c.), a process was used, by which 
the natural form of the body was retained. In particular, the shrinking 
of the trunk and the twisting of the body was avoided. For this purpose, 
stuffing was adopted. The flesh was replaced by bringing under the skin 
more permanent substances, such as loam, sand or sawdust — aromatic 
substances often being mixed with them. Later, this process of stuffing 
was again given up, and an attempt was made to retain the external form 
by wrapping bandages round the limbs and the body. Still later, twist- 
ing was prevented by using pitch and bandages. The incision in the 
roof of the nasal cavity, which is mentioned by Herodotus, and through 
which the brain was removed, has been dis- 
covered by Smith in all mummies of the 17th 
and later Dynasties. The entrails, which were kept 
in the four ' Canopic vases ’ while the body was in 
solution, were placed in four packets in the interior 
of the body, after removal from solution. 

Of the numerous data derived from the 
analysis of mummies and their constituent parts, 
we mention only the following details, as being 
the most important, since they give us note- 
worthy information about the process of making 
mummies and the substances used in doing so. 

The ashes of three mummies, analysed by A. Lucas, 
contain 10 to 13 *58 per cent, of substances insolu- 
ble in water, particularly calcium carbonate, also 
iron oxide, aluminium acetate, and sand. It has 
not been possible to determine whether the calcium 
carbonate is a transformed product of the embalm- 
ing substances, or an accidental impurity intro- 
duced from the earth ; nor has it been established 
whether the aluminium was used as a silicate or 
as a soluble salt. These substances seem to be 
the remains of the materials used for stuffing. 

Haas observed the high percentage of sodium in 
the ash of a mummy ; this is due to the corpse 
having been laid in the ‘ natrum ’ mentioned by Herodotus. This 
' natrum ' or ‘ nitrum ' has hitherto been regarded as a solution of 
saltpetre or soda, in particular of that form of soda (sodium carbonate) 
which occurs in the salt lakes of Egypt, and is now called ‘ trona ' ; it 
corresponds chemically with the formula Na2C03.3H20. W. A. Schmidt 
failed to discover in the texture of mummies the slightest trace of salt- 
petre or sodium carbonate ; on the other hand, there have always been 
fotmd, in particular in ‘ Coptic ' mummies, considerable quantities of 
common salt. According to Schmidt, the ' nitrum ’ bath therefore con- 
sisted certainly of common salt. The making of the mummies was thus 
effected by an actual pickling of the corpses. Trona was also much used 
in the solid fonn as a material to stuff the corpses. In no mummy was 

Fig. 187. — Canopic 
vase, for entrails 

This served to receive the en- 
trails of the corpses of mum- 
mies. The lid has the shape of 
a human head. The lower part 
is covere'd with canvas and 
painted Wads. Height 13 in. 
Thebes. Berlin Museum, 
Egyptian Department 



it possible to discover other chemical preserving substances, such as 
compounds of mercury, arsenic, lead, zinc, or antimony. The washing 
out of the bodies by means of palm wine had no preserv- 
ing action, as it contains only a very small percentage of 
alcohol. Excluding the air by means of resin, asphalt 
and so forth plays a minor part, according to Schmidt, 
in comparison with the pickling and drying. The wrap- 
ping round with bandages, which were painted with gum 
and resins , is, however, of importance . The fact that dry- 
ing without pickling can act as a preservative in the dry 
air of Egypt is proved by prehistoric mummies, perhaps 
6,000 years old, which have .lain buried in the sand; 
and no salting treatment could be traced in them. They 
were well dried before being buried. Probably the rob- 
bing of the corpses buried with ornaments and jewels, 
which often occurred, and also the improvement of tools 
which made it possible to construct wooden coffins, led 
to the old method of drying by means of air being discarded, 
and to the introduction of pickhng and drying for making 

trails (Canopic The ‘ trona ' which was used to stuff the mummies 
jar) was mixed with fats, probably with butter, but Schmidt, 

to SniS. liad^of carefully investigated the question of the fatty 

E^sTOwSawk.^ It acids present in mummies, has left the question open, as 
Espiiair^nd '^then to whether Other fats were also used, or whether the fat 
pfgmentr‘‘ius’^S which was mixed with the trona wms gradually derived 
the body. It seems probable, however, that the 
trona was mixed with butter. 

Concerning the preparation of the resins used for 
mummies, there are many researches by Reutter, Tschirsch, and others, 
which were carried out on mummies of various ages. It is shown that 

Fig. 1 88. — An 
■Urn for En- 

pure resins such as styrax, mastix, Aleppo resin, copal, asphalt, prob- 
ably also turpentine from Chios, cedar resin and mixtures of these sub- 
stances occurred. The presence of incense could nowhere be proved in 

From a tomb in 'Uebes. Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

these mummies, .so that the remark made by Herodotus is confirmed. 
Its use was forbidden by religious decrees in Egypt. In Carthaginian 
mummies, on the other hand, where these decrees were not in force, 
we do find incense. The most varied essences w'ere used for perfuming 
in Carthage; thyme and mint were favoured. According to Dorpfeld, 



th(' (irt-cks also preserved their corpses, namely, by smoking them. 
Burning was only resorted to when the ash was to be transi)orledB 'Phe 

Fm. 190. — A Mummy with Bandages removed 
Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

fact that preserving was also effected by excluding the air, by placing 
bodies in honey, or pouring wax over them, is clear from the report of 
Plutarch 40) about the death of Agesilaus in the Plarboiir of 

Menelaus in Libya : ‘ As no honey was to be had, the Spartans poured 
wax over the dead man, and carried him thus to Lacedaemon.' Hero- 
dotus (IV, 71} makes a similar remark about the Scythians. In order 
to bt; able to transport the corpses of their kings, they covered the 
body with a wax, after having cut open the abdomen, cleaned it, and 
filled it with powdered saffron, with perfumes, aniseed, and other sub- 
stances, and then sewed it up again. As this stuffing has no preserv- 
ing virtues, the preservation must have been due to the exclusion of 
air by the wax. 

Coloured painting on a white 
backgrotmd. The fare is dark 
red. TlielKis, Berlin Museum, 
Egyptian Department 

Fig. iqi. — The Covering 
of a Mummy 

This theory refers to prehistoric times, — Trans. 



A lthough ceramic art relates first and foremost to working 
in clay, that is, to moulding clay into all manner of objects 
of art and articles of daily use, we shall nevertheless in this 
section also touch on the production of various building materials, 
especially bricks. For in antiquity there were various relationships 
between pottery proper, and the extraction of building materials, due 
to the construction of the furnaces, the treatment of the material used, 
and other factors. Pottery is without doubt one of the oldest of all 
applied arts. It can be traced back to prehistoric times ; indeed, we 
may well say, to the beginnings of the human race.^ Rohland makes 
some noteworthy remarks about how vessels came to be made of clay. 
He mentions that the French navigator Gonneville discovered on the 
Brazilian coast wooden cooking vessels of the natives, which were sur- 
rounded by a layer of loam ; if by chance the wooden shell became 
loosened from the earthenware envelope, an earthenware vessel was left. 
The German explorer Rau discovered in an old pottery of the Indians, on 
the Mississippi, reeds and rushes which were lined with clay. When 
they were heated, the wooden parts burned away, and the clay vessel 
remained behind. So it seems that wooden vessels and woven vessels 
were made water-tight by means of clay ; perhaps originally only by 
rubbing clay in at the joints. When the clay became dry, it released 
itself from the vessel, and so the first unfired article of pottery was 
obtained. If now by chance a vessel of this kind fell into a fire, so that 
the wood was burned, it would at once be recognized that the clay not 
only withstood the heat of the fire, but indeed became harder and more 
rigid. So that, in primeval times, chance probably taught the firing 
of ceramic vessels. Other circumstances also conspired to make ceramic 
art one of the most ancient technical achievements : clay can be shaped ; 
it is plastic. If a human being walked through a layer of clay, this 
property would immediately strike the eye. This property was then 
used in order to give the clay any desired shape by pressing and kneading 
it. Later, it was given its shape by means of tools, among which the 
most important was the potter’s wheel. The date of the beginnings of 
the wheel cannot now be ascertained, but it occurs among all people 
of antiquitj^, and was probably first used in Asia Minor or Egypt. Very 
old ceramic articles which have come from these places prove that the 
wheel was used in making them ; in very ancient Egyptian pictures we 
^ An exaggeration ; but it is as old as the Nealithic period. — Trans. 




see the potter sitting at work using it (Fig. 192). I'lic fact that the 
potter’s wheel was not discovered afresh by ail the peoples who used it, 
but that it was spread abroad by inter-racial traffic and commercial 
relationships over wide areas of the prehistoric and ancient world, is 
supported by a remarkable circumstance, which perhaps proves that 
the art of firing clay became transmitted in the same way. In all fired 
clay of the first period, no matter whence it is derived, we find one and 
the same sign, namely the crux ansata (Swastika), We find this 
sign in Greenland, as well as at the southernmost point of Amei'ica ; 
we find it in Scandinavia, as well as in Africa. It suggests that the 
cradle of the clay industry, as regards the firing of clay and the use of 
the potter’s wheel, was in Asia Minor or in Egypt. 

In the most distant times, the clays used were from those uppermost 

I’lG. iQi. — -Use of the Potter's Wheel (on the right) 

Among the Egyptians at the time of the Manetho’s 12th Dynasty (2380 to 2167 b.c.). The meaning of the picture on 
the left is not dear. The suggestion that glass is being blown is probably wrong, according to the arguments used in 
the section on ‘ Glass page 152. The disc is turned with the left hand, whilst the right hand uses the fonning iron. 
Wall painting iroin Beni Hasan 

layers of the earth which just happened to be available. Later, clay 
was specially selected ; it was recognized that, after being fired, one 
clay assumed a different colour from another. The accidental admixture 
of compounds of iron, manganese and other metals brought about this 
effect. Perhaps experiments were made to discover the reason of this 
colouring, and thus the foundations of a new technical science were 
laid, which gave rise to coloured pottery, an art which in the course of 
time, particularly in Greece and Rome, became developed to a high 
degree of artistic excellence. We shall later treat coloured Greek and 
Roman ceramic art in greater detail, and shall describe the manner in 
which it was carried out. Glass fluxes also began to be used, and the 
method of using them was also probably due to an accident. For it does 
not seem impossible that sometimes, while earthenware vessels were 
being fired, coloured or uncoloured alkaline or calcium silicates, that is 
glazes, formed on the surface. These glazes are also found on very old 


specimens of pottery. Later still, the art of varnishing glaze also 
became perfected to an extraordinary degree. Moreover, in the course 

Fig. 193. — Tomb consisting of fourteen Brick 
Provincial Museum o£ TrSves 

of time, the clay was cleaned and improved by artificial methods, especi- 
ally by washing. The improvement of furnaces proceeded parallel with 

Fig. 194. — ^Roman. Tiles, -with Stamps 
Provincial Mniieum, Trfives 

this development. At first, the clay vessels were probably fired by 
placing them on a charcoal fire and covering them with charcoal. It 
must then often have happened that the vessel, particularly when it was 


glazed, baked fast and stuck to its base. Methods were therefore devised 
for keeping the clay substances free so that they were brought into con- 
tact only with the flames, and not with the burning fuel. Furnaces were 
therefore invented, in which the fire chamber was separated from the 
oven in which the material to be fired was placed. The simplest 
furnace of this construction — in, its fundamental essentials — is still 
much used, and is known in ceramic art under 
the name ' Cassel furnace.' 

The extensive use of clay objects in art, in the 
household and in trade, made wholesale production 
necessary : all ancient peoples built factories, in 
which numerous workmen were occupied with 
producing the forms and with firing. Towns of 
considerable size required great quantities of clay 
ware ; for these were used not only in the household 
and for building, but also for many other purposes, 
such as for making tombs (Fig. 193), In Rome 
there is still a mound 166 ft. liigh and 2,500 ft. in 
circumference, which consists entirely of broken 
fragments of pottery ; it is known as Monte Tes- 
taccio. The fragments represent pieces thrown 
away during the unloading of goods des- 
patched on the Tiber. Wholesale production led 
to the making of improved apparatus which could give a more rapid 
supply of earthenware. Forms were invented in which greater quanti- 
ties could speedily be made than would have been possible by hand 
(Fig. 194). As nowadays, so in antiquity, the individual factories and 
workmen used stamps which were pressed into the clay. These stamps 
tell us the name of the maker of the object (Fig. 194). An extensive 
collection of ancient earthenware and brick stamps has been made by 


The development of ceramic art sketched out above, took place 
everywhere along fairly similar lines, and therefore we have been able to 
treat it as a whole. We next discuss the special peculiarities of this 
art among the individual peoples. 


As already mentioned, the cradle of ceramic art w^as probably Asia 
Minor or Egypt, From here, this art spread over the Orient, and it 
first became a flourishing industry in Babylon and Assyria, The Baby- 
lonians and Assyrians not only made earthenware vessels, but also knew, 
how to put an artistic finish to their bricks. In Assyria, we find bricks, 
as well as ordinary clay stones, which have been dried in the sun, also 
fired and glazed stones. Rathgen, with the help of a voluminometer, 
an apparatus which tells how much of the clay has disappeared during 

Fig, 195. — Modelling 
Form, so-called Model- 
ling Id-sh, with a cast 
relief in clay for the 
wholesale production of 
ceramic decoration 
Borlin Museum, Aiitiquariuui 



the firing, has determined the temperature that must have been reached 
in the ancient Babylonian furnaces at the time of Nebuchadnezzar (604 
to 561 B.c.) . He found that the bricks must have been fired at a temper- 
ature of 550° to 600° G. This is a very low temperature, and it explains 
why these bricks can be cut with a knife. The temperature of firing 
clay nowadays is about i,oog° C. For a long time, the construction of 
the ancient Babylonian furnaces was shrouded in mystery, until Hil- 
brecht, in excavations in Nippur, for the first time discovered one of 
these furnaces, dating from the year 200 b.c. Here, the fire-chamber 
and the flame-space have been separated from each other in a very 
curious way. For whereas among many of the ancient furnaces, and 
also in the case of the ‘ Cassel furnace ’ already mentioned, the flame- 
space lies at the side of the fire-chamber, it is here situated above it. 
The top of the fire-chamber is provided with a number of slits, through 
which the flames pass, and also the hot gases that are produced. The 
earthenware objects to be fired stood over these fairly long slits. Bricks 
were probably also fired on them ; as Herodotus reports, the clay that 
was used for these bricks had been collected during the digging of the 
trench around Babylon. Herodotus had been in Babylon, as Friedrich 
Delitzsch has shown, and he can therefore be relied upon. He writes ; 

' As they (the Babylonians) made the trench, they fashioned bricks out 
of the earth which was thrown out of the trench ; and when they 
had prepared a sufficient number of bricks, they burned them in brick 
furnaces, and then used hot bitumen as a cement.' 

The last remark proves that even at that time the porosity of these 
bricks was put to good use in the case of ancient Babylonian structures, 
as a non-porous brick cannot be so tightly attached to other bricks with 
bitumen (asphalt). The great town-gate of Nippur, which was probably 
built about the year 3000 b.c., was also made rigid by means of bricks 
in the manner mentioned, which were joined together with asphalt. 
Great interest was aroused when, in the year 1851, pieces of brick were 
found in the ruins of Babylon, whose form and glaze led to the con- 
clusion that they belonged to the figures of great lions. The prophet 
Ezekiel, and also the Greek writer Diodorus, tell of the splendid clay 
figures which adorned the walls of Babylon and depicted lion and tiger 
hunts. More recently, these wonderful terra-cotta figures have been 
rediscovered ; they are coloured dark-blue, light 'blue, white, yellow, 
and green, and they show a black outline. It has also been possible to 
get an idea of how these works of art were made. The process was 
certainly a little circuitous, for since the bricks shrank during the firing, 
there was the danger that if they were first formed, coloured and glazed, 
they would aftenvards no longer fit together. The following procedure 
was therefore adopted. The bricks were made wedge-shape, and then 
fired. By this means it was possible to make the outer joints fit closely. 
The bricks were then built up into a wall. On this the picture was painted 
in outline, by means of a substance which became red after the firing. Even 
if the building-up was not perfectly done, the drawing still remained 
regular. The stones. were then marked, and the whole structure was 


again taken to pieces. The glaze was then put on the bricks within the 
outlines marked on them ; and the bricks were then fired again — in 
which process they no longer shrank, and yet allowed the glaze to be 
burned in. The whole was then built up again, and the marks on the 
bricks indicated where every stone belonged. The great lions in the 
processional street of Nebuchadnezzar, which are 3 ft. high and 6| ft. 
long, were at any rate first modelled or chiselled by a sculptor in a mould 
in which they represented a ‘ negative so that the parts to be raised 
were depressed, and the depressed parts raised. The clay which 
served to make the bricks was then pressed into this form, so that 
a clay plate resulted which contained the ‘ positive This large clay 
plate was next cut up into several parts. Bricks were thus made which 
were marked in the manner already described, and then fired, A sort 
of wholesale manufacture of such gigantic specimens of plastic ceramic 
art is represented by the twelve warriors, which were discovered in the 
ancient Persian capital Susa ; the close resemblance between several of 
them indicates clearly that they were produced from the same mould. 
The wall on which they are situated was first built up, and the warrior 
form was modelled on it. The model was then cut up in the manner 
demanded by the position of the stones of the wall situated beneath. 
Each brick so produced was then shaped, after it had been copied (and 
a negative had been obtained) as often as required, 'lire outlines were 
then marked on the form-brick by means of clay — so that they came 
out as hollows in the negative but as prominences again in the final 
bricks. In this way, there were formed, on these final bricks, shallow 
.spaces into which the glaze could be filled, and over which it spread itself 
when fired. These raised friezes, which are over 1 1 yards long, were made 
in this way about the beginning of the fifth century b.c. Similar plastic 
works are to be found in Babylon ; for example, the ornamental animals 
on the triumphal arch of Ishtar. 

In the above-mentioned city of Susa, terra-cotta vessels have been 
found, which give us information about the production and composition 
of ancient Persian domestic utensils. They are made from marly clay, 
are of rather rough form, and not smoothed on the outside. On some 
there are black ornaments which have been simply painted on the un- 
baked clay with a brush. The black colour appeared only after 
firing, but no lustre re.sulted. The firing temperature is estimated by 
Granger to have been about 1,000® C. The chemical composition of 
the vessels is as follows (according to Granger) : 

Per cent. 

Clayey substance . , . . . . . 28*57 

.Sand, etc. . . 27*10 

lime . . . . . . ... 37*58 

Moistm'e . . . , , , , , . 2*70 

Water (in composition) , . . , . . . 4*05 


The ceramic art of the Egyptians closely resembles, in its main 
essentials, that of the Babylonians, Assyrians and Persians, which we 


have just described. Herodotus (II, 136) narrates of the brick pyramid 
of King Asychis that it bears the inscription ; ‘ Do not consider me mean 

Fig. 196. — Making Bricks among the Egyptians (about 2000 b.c.) 

A : Two men are taking water out of a pool, in order to moisten the raw material (Nile nmd). B : Working the material 
and earrying it away. C : Brick moulds in wooden boxes ; next to them is the overseer. D ; Piling up the t)ricks to 
dry in the sun. K : Collecting together the finished bricks that have been dried in the sun, and building up a wall. 
Deutsches Museum, Munich 

in comparison with the stone pyramids, for I am as far above them as 
Zeus above the other gods. For they thrust a pole deep into a marsh, 

and collected that which 
remained of the mud on 
the rod, and made bricks 
therefrom. In this way 
they have built me.’ This 
description of how clay 
was extracted is certainly 
noteworthy, but it can 
hardly have been the only 
method used. Pictorial 
representations that have 
been preserved, such as those 
shown in Figs. 196 and 197, 
which date back to the year 
2000 B.C., give us sufficient 
information about the man- 
ner of making bricks in 
Egypt. It hardly varies 
from that practised by other 
peoples. The bricks were 
probably mostly dried in the 
air, but firing-ovens were 
Fig. 1 97. —Model of an Egyptian Brick-works also known, although none 

Formiug and moulding the bricks by hand. Alleged to have been of thcSC haVC yct been 
found on the eastern bank of Beliane and Nag Hamadi respectively. r i r . i i 

Made of wood. i.| ri in. Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department lOUnCl. In tlie nitn Cliap- 

ter of Exodus, mention is 
made of the manufacture of bricks in Egypt by the Jews, and it is 
stated that straw was used in this process. The way in which the straw 
was used remained obscure for a long time. It was regarded by many 
as a mechanical cement. From experiments which were carried out by 
the American Acheson on the elasticity and tensile strength of the loam 


used to make smelting crucibles, it was found that the addition of 
(U'ganic substances, and particularly of straw, to loam, which was 
afterwards dried, caused the breaking strength of the bricks so obtained 
to rise from 84 lbs. to the square inch to 269 lbs. to the square inch : 
liencc the strength of the brick was increased by 244 per cent. 

Acheson did not doubt that the Egyptians knew of this action of 
straw on the clayey mass, and he found that the presence of a substance 
in the straw affected the loam in the same way as tannic acid affects 
leather. The fact that straw was actually used for producing bricks in 
Egypt, is proved by the imfired bricks of El Kab and the bricks of the 
pyramids of Dahshur, in which, besides straw, leaves of plants and parts 
of grasses {Triticum vulgare L., Hordeum vulgare L. and Hordeum hexa- 
dichon L) were found. A further peculiarity of the ancient ceramic 
art of ancient Egypt is to be noted in the remarkable earthenware 
vessels which were, used at a very early date for keeping water and are 
still in use nowadays on the Nile, namely, the so-called ‘ gullahs They 
were fired at a very low temperature and were consequently very porous. 
If Nile water was now poured into them on hot days, it passed through 
the pores and evaporated on the outer surface of the jar. As it derived 
the warmth necessary for this evaporation from its immediate surround- 
ings, the water cooled very rapidly, in proportion to the rate of evapora- 
tion. Consequently, on very hot days, the ‘ gullahs ’ provided par- 
ticularly cool water, since on such days the air would be at a temperature 
far removed from its saturation point. From theoretical reflections, 
however, Dollinger has arrived at the conclusion that the greatest cooling 
is effected by vessels placed in the shade and left in the draught. His 
opinion is not shared in all points by von Luschan. Further details are 
given in the section on ‘ Refrigeration and Preserving ’, page 122. For the 
rest, the ordinary earthenware vessels of the ancient Egyptians, such as 
were used in the household, exhibit no special peculiarities. They were 
made (Fig. 198) in very much the same way as nowadays. They were 
prepared from clay, which became red, yellow or brown after firing, and 
they differ in no wise from the earthenware vessels in use among the other 
peoples of antiquity. In contrast with them, however, the glazed 
ceramic works of the ancient Egyptians arouses the greatest interest ; 
it was formerly called ‘ Egyptian Porcelain ’ or ‘ Glazed Faience ’ — two 
terms which are equally incorrect. They are due to Brongniart, who used 
them for the first time in his Traite des Arts Ceramtques. They passed 
over into the archaeological vocabulary, although they can be justified 
neither from the technical nor from the chemical point of view. 1'hese 
pseudo- ceramic objects contain no clay at all as an essential constituent. 
Rather, they consist of sand, to which a small quantity of clay has been 
added. The analyses made by William Burton prove that the material 
of these vessels contains in general 94 per cent, of sand and up to 2 per 
cent, of clay. The rest consists of accidental ingi-edients, chiefly lime 
and magnesia. As the small quantity of clay contained in these does 
not suffice to bind the sand sufficiently for a plastic and hence work- 
able mass to result, Burton assumes that the ancient Egyptians used, 


for preparing their glazed coloured vessels, simply the natural sandstone, 
which happened to contain a very small quantity of clay. The potter’s 
wheel was not used at all ; rather, the sandstone was hollowed out. 

To prove the correctness of the view that this very peculiar ancient 
Egyptian art actually existed formerly. Burton quotes facts discovered 
in his detailed investigations. In the first place, there are found in the 
oldest Egyptian tombs small spheres, pendants from necklaces, and so 

Fig. 198. — Making Earthenware Vessels in Egypt 

Fig. 199. — So-called ‘ Glazed 

Faience’ or ‘Egyptian Porcelain’ 
A thistle, probably from a chain. Above 
and below, a link. The stern and the cup 
are urcen, the rest is dark blue. Height, 
,! in. Found in Thebes. Berlin Museum, 
Egyptian Department 

So-called ‘ Glazed 

Just as nowadays, the clay is soaked, stamped bo, and then kneaded Faience ’ or 'Egyptian Porcelain’ 
by hand, and left to ‘ rot ’in lumps. It is then fomied by moans of the ■ , , 
potter’s wheel, which is turned with the left hand, The pieces are dried A child’s doll. A blue glaze. Length> 
and fired in the furnace, which, as shown in the picture, is filled and nearly 6 in. Berlin Museum, Egyptian 
emptied from above and heated from below Department 

forth, which have been cut from stone that is harder than sandstone and 
has been glazed (Fig. 199), With the help of the polarization micro- 
scope, Burton further established that the basic substance of the earthen- 
ware vessels actually consists of sandstone or some quartz-like stone. 
This art was practised from the 18th Dynasty {1550 b.c.) onwards for 
1,500 years in an unchanged form. Burton therefore suggests for these 
vessels the name ' Ancient Egyptian Silica Vessels' or ‘ Quartz Vessels’. 


Since the sandstone itself has only a small coefficiency of rigidity, the 
strength of the quartz vessels depends solely on the glaze. The glazes 
are composed of alkaline silicates of lime ; they are for the most part of a 
beautiful blue colour and contain the colouring matter copper oxide. 
These glazes cannot be spread over ordinary earthenware at all, as they 
do not flow smoothly over them ; they form a beautiful smooth surface 
only on matter containing silica. It was only later, when the Romans 
had already penetrated into Egypt, that the method of applying such 
glazes to earthenware vessels was acquired. To do so, the device was 
used of applying between the earthenware and the glaze a slip 

Fig. 201. — ‘Egyptian Faience' Fig. 202. — 'Egyptian Faience’ 

Open wurlv or fret-work tablet, with rows of K ikxir in the lowest i hauiber of the stepp<‘d pyramid of Saqqarah. \ 
fiKurcs of gods vertically alwve one another, line of hieroglyphic inscription runs around the three sides of the main 
The fifth row is broken. Light green glaze, portal. The niskle, outside and the sides are ornamented with green 
Height, 3 1 in. ; width, 2 in. Berlin Musciiin, glazed tablets of ‘Egyptian Faience ’. A replica in the Berlin Museum, 
Egyptian Department Egyptian Department 

containing a high percentage of silica. Polychrome glazes occur in 
Egyptian silica, but only in the later periods ; they reached the highest 
perfection and were made in great variety under the sovereignty of 
the Romans. 

The investigations of Burton, which were at first much doubted, 
have been confirmed by the German investigators Pukall and Bcrge, 
who, entirely independently of him, came to the same conclusions from 
their experiments. Pukall and Berge succeeded in reproducing the 
turquoise-blue glaze from marble, soda, sand, and copper oxide. In 
this way, they obtained beautiful turquoise surface colourings. By using 
cobalt and manganese oxide, as well as chromium oxide, they obtained 


other splendidly coloured glazes. Le Chatelier in Paris also succeeded 
in copying the coloured enamels of glazed Egyptian stones, statuettes, 
and other objects. For the sandstone used, he finds exactly the same 
composition as Burton, and the glazes which he produced are composed 
essentially of silica, calcium carbonate, calcined soda, copper oxide, and 
similar substances. Besides vessels, the Egyptians also enamelled tiles. 

Since the Persian ceramists who lived at the time of the Egyptian 
dyna.sties made tiles as weU as vessels and vases, in which the sandy 
surfaces were covered with coloured enamels, we have reason for assuming 
that the art of enamelling had its origin among the ancient Egyptians, 
and that it then penetrated through the invasions of Cambyses (530- 
522 B.C.), who advanced as far as Nubia, to Persia, and thence to the 
rest of the ancient Orient. The Greeks and the Romans likewise 
learned the art of enamelling from the Egyptians. Later, in post-Roman 
times, this art was introduced from Egypt by Moors into Spain, whence 
it spread over the rest of Europe. 

A question which has given rise to much discussion is whether the 
ancient Egyptians made porcelain. This question has in many cases 
been answered in the affirmative, probably on account of the terms 
mentioned above, and introduced by Brongniart. Now, porcelain is 
actually found in Egypt, but it has been proved that in all cases it is 
derived from China, and that it was introduced from China — probably 
rather late — into Egypt. Le Chatelier asserts that genuine Egyptian 
porcelain actually exists. He has examined a sample derived from 
the Morgan collection, and discovered exactly the same composition 
as that which white porcelain of Sfevres still has nowadays. The result 
of the analysis was : 

Per cent. 

Silica . .88-6 

Aluminium oxide , . . . . , . i'4 

Iron oxide ........ >4 

Lime ......... a-i 

Soda 5-8 

Copper oxide . . . . . . . . 17 


Le Chatelier succeeded in producing the same substance artificially 
by using a temperature of 1,050° C, For the rest, it is known that 
porcelain was invented by the Chinese. It has not yet been possible 
to establish definitely when this invention was made, but the date is by 
no means so far back as was formerly believed. The existence of porce- 
lain among the Chinese is established with certainty for about a.d. 600, 
although there are certain indications that the first porcelain objects 
were perhaps produced in China about 200 b.c. Little is known about 
the ancient Chinese method of making porcelain. Recent investigations 
by the Japanese savant Hirano have at least shown that the form of 
ancient Chinese furnaces for making porcelain still exists here and there. 
These furnaces, which consist of three or more chambers, are built up on 

CI:RAMIC art among peoples of AN'noUITV 141 

a tlcclivity in siicli a way that one chamber is always sitnaled a little 
liigher than the last. In this way, the draught necc>ssary for l)urniiig 

]''iG. 203. — Anfient Chinese Furnace, consisting of various Chambers 

is produced, and no chimney is necessary, which therefore is not present 
at all, or is very low and attached to the last chamber (Fig. 203). A 
vspecial furnace was probably used for burning on the glaze. 


The ceramic art of antiquity reached its zenith in Greece, The form 
and appearance of its products attained the highest degree of perfection, 
the clay and the object formed from it being a welcome field for artistic 
activity. All other arts were enlisted in the service of ceramic industry, 
indeed they were derived from it ; for does not Greek fable ^ state that 
painting, as well as plastic art, was discovered in the workshop of the 
potter Butades ? There is without doubt an element of truth in this 
myth— at least in so far as it refers to a definite branch of plastic art, 
namely bronze-casting. Before clay could be formed and fired, it was 
impossible to produce works of art cast from bronze. Thus, the casting 
of bronze must have been preceded by ceramic art, which served as a 
guide and a lead. There are intimate relations between Greek and 
Roman wall-paintings and the paintings on Greek vases. The painting 
of vessels among the Greeks became a model for the painting of friezes — 
indeed for the production of pictures. 

In examining Greek vases, which represent the zenith of ancient 
Plellenic ceramic art, two aspects must be sharply diherentiated ; the 
artistic and the technical point of view. Although these vases are perfect 
in artistic respects, they are just the contrary from the technical point 

1 The reference is to a late and silly story told in Pliny, N.H. XXXV, 15 1. — 



of view. In Greece, too, ceramic art attained a great age. The earliest 
excavations— above all, those of Schliemann in Troy, those at Mycenae 
and other places — ^brought to light numerous earthenware vessels. But 
even before Schliemann, in the twenties of the last century, numerous 
vases were discovered in Etruria, which, on account of their origin, were 
regarded as products of the Etruscans. Later excavations showed, how- 
ever, that these were Greek products.^ Since then, such vases have been 
excavated in enormous numbers in various places, so that we now have 
abundant material at our disposal. An endless number of publications 
have appeared about them, but they discuss the Greek vases almost in 
all cases only from the archaeological and artistic point of view. The 
technical aspect received less attention. Only recently, more attention 
has been paid to the ancient Greek ceramic art by the technical scientist. 
It was then discovered, as already indicated above, that the technical 
processes were by no means perfect. Above all, no very high temper- 
ature was reached, and consequently the clay remained too porous for 

Fig. 204. — Greek Potter’s Wheel. Corinthian Pinax. Paris, Museum of the Louvre 

many purposes. It did not frit together sufficiently densely, and the 
glaze was not first applied in order to embellish it, but rather it served 
the necessary purpose of making the vessel water-tight, to make it 
impenetrable — ^t^Eich it would not perhaps be otherwise. Out of this 
necessity there then grew a virtue ; the glaze, and also the painting under 
it, were developed to a high degree of artistic excellence. In general, 
Greek vases are black, brown or red, and are more or less polished. At 
the end of the third century b.c. a glaze appeared on them. They are 
often so porous that we can understand that the glaze was necessary, 
for even if water — as in the Egyptian gullah — might have kept very fresh 
in many of these vessels, they were probably quite inappropriate for other 
purposes. The potter's wheel was used in the earliest times ; Homer 
mentions it ; he compares the whirling motion of dancers to the 
revolving of the potter’s wheel [Iliad, XVIII, 600), while Diodorus 
names Tabs (otherwise Kalos or Perdix) nephew of Daidalos, as its 
inventor. In all cases the potter’s wheel is turned by hand. Moulds were 
not used, but forming rods. The construction of the Greek potter’s 

^ Italy abounds both in important Greek pottery and in local ware, Etruscan 
and other, from Neolithic times on.-; — Trans. 


wheel is made beautifully clear to us on a Corinthian votive tablet in the 
Louvre in Paris (Fig. 204). The disc is shown in cross-section, and has, 
as we see, bearings at the centre. This bearing consists of a conical 
hole placed over a pivot, which widens conically towards the bottom. 
To prevent the disc from raising itself up, the pivot, so it appears, is 
])rovided with a hole above the disc, through which a pin can be thrust. 
The part of the pivot which projects beyond the disc carries a"cover, 
whiclx is visible in the picture ; and it is here that the clay that is to be 
worked is placed. The pivot is also hollowed out conically inside, and 
rests on a second massive conical pivot, about which it can turn. In 
order to keep his sphere of action clear the potter seizes the disc at the 
opposite side of the rim, or on the side remote from the body, and 
turns it. In the other hand ho holds a bent forming-rod, which — 
judging by its appearance — we assume is used to shape the upper rim 
of the vessels. The potter must possess great manipulative ability. 
The rim of the vessels is always made thick, to give it greater strength. 

Fig. 205, — A red-figured Greek Vase (best period). 

Berlin Altes Museum, Antiquariuin 

The vessels were painted in manifold ways, and the colours were 
applied by means of a brush. In many cases the vases were painted 
completely black. The painting was carried out on the moist clay, 
which rapidly absorbed the colour. The figures were protected during the 
jxrocess so that they appeared yellow or red on the black background. Fine 
lines and other marks were scratched on the black background by means 
of sharp instruments. The black colour is always applied so thinly that 
it does not stand out in relief. Many colours, particularly yellow, which 
consists of yellow ochre, were always applied under the glaze ; and 
others, above all white and red, occurred chiefly above it. Whereas in 
the older art only the colours mentioned were used, violet, green and blue 
apjxeared later. (For the chemical composition of Grecian colours, sec the 
section on ‘ Colours.') The gilding of vessels is met with in the earliest 
times. For example, Mrs. Harriet Boyd Hawes excavated vases in 
Crete, whose age was probably about 3,500 years, and which were used 
for sacrificial purposes. They are so superbly gilt that they were at 
first thought to be gold vessels. Only a closer investigation revealed 
th eir real nature . At the same place, vases were foil nd which were silvered 



in a similar way. In the Greek National Museum at Athens, there is an 
earthenware vase of this sort, which comes from the tombs of the (yclades, 
going back to the year 2500 b.c. It is massive in form, in order to give 
the illusion of being a metal vase, and it has been silvered with great 
dexterity. The coating of gold and silver was applied by means of metal 
foil. The handle and other excrescences were made separately, and 
attached to the finished vase. Barbotine served as a cement. The 
beautiful black glaze of antique Grecian vases has been the subject of 
many researches. It was firstly found that the beautiful red of the clay 
resulted from its being burned in a natural way with abundant access 
of air. The analysis of the glaze, which was carried out in many cases, 
proved that only iron oxide was present, which could not explain the 
mystery of this splendid black coating, until Verneuil succeeded in making 
it by fusing together iron filings, soda 
and the marly clay, of which the vessel 
was formed, in an oxidizing fire. The 
result was an opaque black glaze with 
green fluorescence, which possessed 
the characteristic properties of Greek 
glaze. Verneuil considers it probable 
that the Greeks obtained finely divided 
iron through reduction of iron com- 
pounds by means of charcoal and soda, 
and that they then added this to the 
marly clay and soda. The beautiful 
black surface might also then have 
come about owing to the favourable 
circumstance that the soda used in 
Greece was not pure, but contained 
admixtures of carbon, sodium sulphide 
and sodium chloride. It does not 
seem out of the question, however, 
that finely filed iron (iron filings) may have been added in place of the 
iron obtained by reduction in the manner just described. Franchet con- 
firms the use of iron, but he does not consider it probable that iron 
filings or reduced iron was used. Rather, he believes that the Greeks 
made use of the mineral magnetic oxide of iron, magnetite, which occurs 
freely in Nature, for producing their glaze ; it always contains a small 
amount of manganese. By melting together 55 parts of quartz sand 
with 45 parts of soda, and by adding 100 parts of magnetite to the molten 
mass, he obtained a glaze which resembled exactly that of the Greek 
vessels, and which also exhibited their blue or green fluorescence. (For 
further particulars about the chemistry of black glaze see page 15 1.) 

If we leave out of account the ordinary articles of use, which do not 
differ from those of other peoples, we recognize a very particular product 
of Greek ceramic art in the so-called ‘ Tanagra ’ figures, which derived 
their name from the town Tanagra in Boeotia, where they were first dis- 
covered in 1874 in the necropolis on the Kokkali Hill. These pretty figures 

(^f:ramic art am()N(; peoples of akhoitty 145 

consist of a liini]) which has been burned red and painted with disleinper. 
They were technically produced in this way ; the sculptor first inaclc a 
model, which was then pressed into a mould of piaster or clay, so that 
two negatives which titled w'ell together were made, 'i'he two hollow 
sjiaces in the middle were then filled with clay and pressed together. 
'I'he result was a plastic figure surrounded by a kind of seam formed by 
tiu! edges of the hollow mould, d'his .seam was removed by means of a 
wooden spatula. The figure was then fired and painted with size colours. 

Curiously enougli, although so many and .such different ceramic products 
were made in Creece, among them very large objects such as amphorae 
and decorations for the favades of houses, nothing was known until quite 
recently about the firing of these objecl.s. On the vasi's there are indeed 
found ])ictures of anciimt (irecian furnaces, on which worknum can be 
recognized who are looking through openings into the furnace, and to 
protect thiunseK’es from the glow, are holding their hands in front of 
their faces ; but real potters’ furnace's were not found till quite recently, 
wdien some specimens were discovered in Mycenae which in their e.ssentials 
resemhhid the Roman furnaces, but differed from them by having the 
pillar which supports the arched roof round instead of rectangular (see 
page 149). 


The ceramic art of the Romans was in many ways influenced by that 
of the Greeks. On the whole it does not differ much at first in its essen- 
tials ; and indeed a common main stream runs through the ceramic art 
of the whole of antiquity, whose characteristics w'e have described in 
detail at the beginning of this section. Later on, in Roman ceramic art, 
just as in that of other peoples, particular methods developed, of w'hich 
some did not even originate on the Italian peninsula. As an example 
of this, we may quote the barbotinc process, which was practised in the 
Gallic and provinces of the Roman Empire, and which was not 
known in Rome and in Italy. It has been discovered only recently 
that it w^as also known in Egypt and Asia Minor. It consists in washing 
the clay till it is very fine and then, by stirring it with water, forming a 
thin barbotine. This is then filled into a funnel provided with a fine 
orifice from which it escapes in a thin stream on to the earthenware 
vc.ssels to be decorated. In this way, raised ornaments appear on the 
earthenw^are ve.ssels. We see that this is the same process as that nowa- 
days still u.sed by confectioners in order to decorate their pListry with 
inscriptions and figures. Whereas, originally, simple ornaments such 
as circles and lines w'ere applied, later, really magnificent show-pieces 
were made by the barbotine process, which exhibited entire hunting 
scenes and the like, 

A further peculiarity of Roman ceramic art was tlie almost complete 
Eibsence of glaze. The firing process is thus technically better than that 
of the Greeks. Where a glaze is present, it is mostly of a green colour, 
but there are also black glazes, and some with a touch of yellow. 'I'he 
black glazed vessels often carry inscriptions, 

T.A.S.— 10 


Besides the barbotine process, special effects were produced by 
throwing gritty particles on to the stiff wet vessels. In this way a rough 
surface is produced, such as we stiff use for covering the walls of houses. 
Roman ceramic art worked itself out most characteristically, however, 

in that species of earthen- 
ware which is called 
terya sigillata on account 
of its similarity with im- 
presses of seals carrying 
relief, or else on account 
of its being decorated 
with raised figures {sigilla) . 
(This term is of recent 
origin, and was not used 
by the ancient Romans.) 
The names ‘ Samian ’ or 
‘ Arretine ' pottery are 
used because the vessels 
were perhaps for the first 
time made on the island 
of Samos, and because the 
most important factories 
for producing them were 
in Arretium, in Etruria. 
The terya ^igillata repre- 
sented the finer types of 
earthenware that existed 
in ancient Roman times. 
We find vessels or frag- 
ments of terra sigillata 
wherever the Romans 
penetrated. They are 
sometimes of light, some- 
times of dark red, simple 
in form, or of noble con- 
tour, smooth or orna- 
mented. But all of them exhibit a beautiful velvety matt finish. 
It is this finish which constitutes their real beauty. The terra sigillata 
presented science with a problem that was difficult to solve. In spite 
of all endeavours, it was for a long time impossible to discover the secret 
of its production. Red earthenware vessels could be produced, but 
none of them had the beautiful and characteristic matt lustre of surface. 
Numerous chemists and ceramists spent decades seeking to solve the 
question. In the porcelain factory in Berlin no fewer than two thousand 
specimens were fired. Great sums of money, amounting to thousands 
of pounds, were expended on these experiments, in which experimenters 
went so far as to use the ancient clay deposits and instruments which 
had been discovered in the excavations. The most detailed scien- 

Fig. 207. — ‘Barbotine’ Vase (so-called, ‘Vase of 
the Gocl-s from St. Matthia.s ’) 

Black glazed goblet with a head and inscriptions painted. The rest is 
made in relief hy means of a conical sprinkling bag Provincial 
Museum, Trdves 


tilic investigations were made in order to discover the secret. As an 
instance of the thoroughness of these efforts, we may quote an example. 
Many of the clays used by the ancient Romans contained microscopic 
particles of magnetic iron ore. During the firing, these particles assume 
a definite position, by setting themselves like the magnetic needle of a 
compass, so as to point along the magnetic lines of the earth. From the 
position of these particles of ore, scientists endeavoured to calculate 
the place at which the vessels were made, and also the temperatures 
which were used for firing. In short, no means were neglected which 
might serve as a clue, (Concerning this magnetic iron ore, see also 
page 151.) 

The same happened as in many other cases. In a lecture given 
at the Association of the Friends of Saalburg, in Berlin, in 1907, 
Diergart spoke the prophetic words: ‘ With the solution of this problem 
of the terra sigillata,th& same will happen as with the egg of Columbus " ; 
it is very simple when once it has been found. ’ [ Events proved that Diergart 
(who had spent nearly ten years of his life on this particular problem) was 
right. The solution has now been found, A simple potter in the little 
village Sulzbach in the Bavarian Oberpfalz, called Karl lri.scher, succeeded, 
in collaboration with his son George Fischer, in lifting the veil from this 
secret of ancient Roman art ; and how simple is the solution ! — ^truly 
an ‘ egg of Columbus’. The new vessels of the terra sigillata type, 
which differ in no respect from the ancient Roman vessels, are made in 
three stages. At first, the rough objects which are either unfired, or 
only slightly fired, are covered with a coloured layer of clay mud. This 
clay mud must be in a very finely divided state, as it is this factor which 
produces the velvety lustre. It must have the further property of turning 
red when fired. There are a considerable number of such clays, so 
that it is not at all difficult to procure them. When this first stage is 
complete, namely covering the vessel with clay mud — the ‘ slip ' as 
potters call it — ^the next step follows. This consists in polishing the 
surface by means of a brush until a very shiny surface is obtained. 
In the third stage, the earthenware is completely fired, and care has to 
be taken that the top layer of clay mud, the ‘slip’, becomes hard. 
The highest authorities in this branch of applied art, such as Diergart and 
Bllimlein of Homburg, have asserted that the objects produced by the 
Fischer method differ in no way from their antique predecessors. The 
inventor has produced by his process a number of vessels from antique 
moulds that have been excavated, and even experts have not been able 
to distinguish them from the antique examples. The Curator of the 
National Museum at Munich, Dr. M. Halm, expressed the opinion 
that the new terra sigillata vessels resemble the originals so extraordin- 
arily closely in their whole character, above all in their warm tone and 
their metallic ring, that only a specialist in archaeological studies would 
be able to di.stinguish between the original and the modern copy. He 
advised the inventor to affix the seal of his firm to all the copies, in order 
that they may be recognized, and may not be used for fraudulent pur- 
poses. Although it cannot be stated with certainty that Fischer’s 


method is exactly the same as that of the ancient Romans, and certain 
doubts have been expressed in this connexion — it has been alleged, for 

Fro. 208. — Roman Potters’ Furnaces 

On the left is the furnace of Castor in, Northamptonshire. On the right is the furnace of Heiligenberg, near Strasbourg, 
Both were first described by Brongniart. Copies in the Deutsches Museum, Munich 

example, that there are certain difference,s (such as those caused by 
drops that^ have fallen 

As seen from the fron^t space in which the workmen sat to supervise the firing. Fig. 209, a view of the fire-space and 
of the perforated bottom of the flame-space. Fig, aio, a view of the preserved part of the flame-space 

sigillata wares makes it appear very probable that the processes were 
the same. 


Concerning the method by which the Romans tired their clay objects 
wc have received detailed information from numerous finds of furnaces, 
as well as potteries furnished with them. Although individual furnaces 
difier in small constructional details, they are fairly similar in their 
essentials. Above all, the fire-chamber and the flame-space are always 
separated. The fire-chamber is often so far away from the flame-space 
that the flames no longer enter the latter, but only the hot gases that 
are emitted. As a rule, the flame-space is of circular form ; the bottom 
is perforated so that the flames or the hot gases, or both, can enter into 
it. The top is mostly arched, and supported in the middle by a square 
column. The diameter of the flame-space is nearly always small, amount- 
ing at most to 6| to 10 feet, and often less. These small dimensions made 
it possible to remove the whole cupola from small firing apparatuses so 

Fig. 21 1. —Model of a Roman Pottery in the Stadtisches Historisches Museum, 

On the right is the muffle-furnace with an arched roof. (Constructed by Gondlach.) 

that fuel could be inserted and extracted when burned out. Larger ones 
were provided for this purpose with a special aperture. Furnaces were 
either round or oblong. For instance, at Aquincum, nowadays called 
Ofen, a suburb of Budapest, seven specimens of the oblong type were 
discovered, in the vicinity of which there were five of the round ones 
(according to Doufrain), a proof that this was once the seat of a great 
industry. Of the oblong furnaces, some served for firing earthenware 
vessels, others for making roof tiles. The best preserved kinds are 
surrounded by walls about 3^ to 5 ft. thick. A fire channel 4 ft. high and 
31 ft. wide passes right down the centre of the whole apparatus. The 
distance from the upper surface of the arched roof to the floor is 2^ ft. ; 
and from the bottom of the fire-channel to the floor it is about 6| ft. The 
lower part of the masonry of the channel consists of trachyte blocks, and 
above them is some brickwork 2| ft. thick. The channel projects 3-I ft. from 
the furnace proper, and thus forms the fire-space, the praejuvnium. From 
the main channel, there branch off at each side eight side channels, about 
10 in. wide. The mouths of these lateral channels are situated ft. 
above the base of the main channel The lateral channels slope up from 


the main channel at an angle of 45 degrees, and end at the wall surround- 
ing the furnace. The individual intervening walls, arches and buttresses, 
are 12 in. thick, and built up from unfired bricks of dimensions 12 X 12 
X 4 in. Everything is covered with a clay layer nearly i in. thick, 
and here and there we find lumps of enamel hanging in the channels. To 
distribute the flames, there are holes 2 in. in diameter arranged in 12 
to 15 rows. The furnaces probably had no arched roof, and it appears 
that before any firing was undertaken, they were covered up with earth. 
Of the circular furnaces, two are connected by a channel, which leads us 
to conclude that the smaller one was heated by the overflow of heat from 
the other, and that it served to fire objects (forms for moulds, stamps 
and so forth) which were not to be raised to too high a temperature. In 
some places, as for example near Waiblingen in Wiirtemberg, there 
are furnaces for firing clay, which date back to a.d. 150 ; they are 
not made of loam or tiles, but have been cut directly out of the clay 
soil. In the lower part there is the fire-chamber divided into two parts, 
and above this is the floor of the drying space, in which holes have been 
cut in order to allow the hot air to enter ; above this, as can still be 
districtly recognized from the remains, rose a vaulted roof provided 
with a chimney. The inner walls of the furnace have become quite 
glazed, owing to the continual heat. On the floor in front of every 
furnace there is a depression, in which the workmen who served the 
furnace used to sit. According to the charred remains that have been 
found, beechwood was used as a fuel. The Roman potters’ furnaces 
occurred in a particularly excellent form called ' muffle ' furnaces, which 
are found here and there ; in them, the fuel was enclosed in a muffle, 
which entirely prevented any gases from entering. The muffles did 
not look like those of nowadays. They were not closed on all sides, but 
rather the whole fire chamber served as a muffle, A number of pipes 
passed through it, starting from the opening of the base of the furnace, 
and becoming narrower as they led up to the arched top. The flames 
and the hot gases passed along these pipes and communicated their heat 
through their walls to the firing-space. There are certain indications 
which appear to signify that in some furnaces there wa.s^ actually a sort 
of gcis fuel used ; at any rate, the fire-chamber leads us to conclude that 
here a combustible gas was produced, which was ignited in the furnace 
itself. Thus, the construction of the furnaces varied in very many 
ways, but in all of them we see that the Romans had an eye to what best 
answered the particular purpose. 


It must yet be mentioned that the high excellence of Roman ceramic 
art also exerted a fruitful influence on the technical science of other 
peoples, in particular of the Teutons in ancient Germany. Under Roman 
rule, numerous Germans became expert potters, as is easily recognized 
from the stamps on the bricks and other earthenware objects. These 
Germans at first made their vessels of unwashed clay and dried them in 
the sun, or else they fired them in an open flame, so that they remained 


fairly soft and porous. The invasion of the Romans changed all this. 
The clay was washed ; the clay furnaces allowed higher temperatures 
to be obtained and therefore harder earthenware, while the potter’s 
wheel gave rise to better forms. According to reports of Heuser about 
Ludovici’s researches, the red glaze of the earthenware term sigillata 
was subjected to a process of smoking, the air being excluded. The 
colouring of the carbon gave rise to a brilliant black glaze. Ludovici 
has established that 
another process for pro- 
ducing these terra nigra 
vessels had its origin in 
the fact that insufficient 
access of air caused the 
red iron oxide of the glaze 
and of the clay to be trans- 
formed by reduction into 
black ferro- oxide. The 
author is of the opinion 
that it was probably not 
the black ferrous oxide 
(FeO), as this is not at all 
known in the pure state, 
on account of its great 
affinity for oxygen, ’ but 
that rather Luclovici’s re- 
mark relates to the well- 
known lustrous black 
powder which consists of 
metallic iron and ferrous 
oxide — ^which is obtained 
by the action of carbon 
monoxide and carbon dioxide on red-hot ferric oxide (Fe.20;,). Owing 
to the insufficient supply of air, both these gases were probably 
present during the heating process. This magnetite (Fe.sO^), which 
was already mentioned on page 147 as being present in the terra 
sigillata, however, also makes the conclusion possible that some com- 
pound was also formed in the case of the terra nigra, which had been 
formed in considerable quantities from the red iron oxide (FesO.). That 
may ea.sily be determined by means of micro chemical analysis. 
According to Forster, the black glaze on Greek vases con,sists of a ferrous 
oxide compound (that is, not of the pure ferrous oxide), probably com- 
bined with silicon dioxide. (Concerning the supposed addition of metallic 
iron to black glaze, see also page 144.) The black smoked ware was 
then sent out, particularly at the time of the Emperor Augustus, as 
terra nigra from the land of the Treveri, and from other places of manu- 
facture, to all parts of the world. 

Fig. 212.— Roman-Germanic Earthenware, of a 
particularly good form 

From a cremation grave. Provincial Museum, TrSves 



F or a long time it was believed that the Phoenicians were the 
inventors of glass ; this belief is traced back to Pliny. But we 
must consign this story to the realm of fables, for, long before 
the Phoenicians, the Egyptians manufactured glass and made the most 
varied objects from it, above all, ornaments. The oldest of all known 
pieces of glass is to be found in the Egyptian section of the Berlin Museum. ^ 
It is a greenish glass bead, which was found with other objects in a 
prehistoric Egyptian grave containing a body in the contracted position. 
This antique bead, which is about 5,400 years old, was for a long time 
regarded as a stone, and indeed as being made of quartz, until a little crack 
was found in it, which made it possible to fracture off a minute particle, 
which could be subjected to a chemical microscopic test. This test, which 
was carried out by Rathgen, showed that when the stone was treated 
with iodized eosin solution, a strong red colour was produced, which 
proved that the object was made of glass — since quartz does not change 
colour under the same treatment. By the addition of powders and treat- 
ing with ammonium fluoride and sulphuric acid, it could be established 
that besides silicon dioxide the bead also contained calcium and sodium, 
which means that it must be regarded as a calcium-sodium glass. We 
shall leave it an open question whether it was made intentionally, or 
whether it was derived as a by-product from brick glazes. But the 
analysis of the bead proves that the Egyptians had knowledge of a number 
of noteworthy technical methods even 3500 years before the beginning 
of our calendar. They were not only able to heat quartz (silicon dioxide) 
to its melting temperature, but they also knew that the silicon dioxide 
contained in rocks could form a glaze-like compound, when salt or soda 2 
was added to it. 

Moreover, they knew how to give the molten mass a definite form. 
They were also aware very early of how to produce colourings ; proof of 
this is furnished by a glass rod which is also among the Egyptian objects 
in the Berlin Museum. This glass rod consists of a number of blue and 
whitish strips of glass, which have been fused together in such a way that 

1 Flinders Petrie makes mention in his book The Royal Tombs of the Earliest 
Dynasties, in relation to Plate XXXVIII, Figs. 53 and 57 (age of Seti), of a piece 
of green glas.s, which is perhaps older than that in the Berlin Museum, but details 
of this piece of glass are wanting, . 

- Which of the two sodium salts was used is not known ; the author is inclined 
to believe that it w'as the natural soda, that occurs in Egypt. 


they make up the name Amenemhat III, who lived about the year 1830 
B.c. (Fig. 213). A somewhat more recent piece which is in the British 
Museum, dates back to the year 1500 B.c. It is the oldest known glass 

P'lG. 213. — Glass Stick with the name Amenemhat HI (about 1830 b.c.) 

Millefiori Art. Length, i-56 in. ; width, -4 in. ; thickness, -2 in. Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

vessel and is made of light-blue glass with brown stripes. Since it bears 
the name Tutmosis (Thothmes III), it was easy to determine accurately 
the date when it was made. 


We next inquire how the Egyptians manufactured their glass, and 
C'how they succeeded in converting it into the very different objects which 
are discovered in excavations. In a tomb at Beni Hasan there is a 
relief, which is probably of about the year 1900 b.c. ; on it we see men 
apparently working at a glass, vessel by means of long pipes. For a long 
time it was believed that these were glass-blowers, and that the pipes were 
the usual pipes of the glass-blower. But Kisa and others have proved 
that this relief represents not glass-blowers but metal-workers, who 
are blowing up a furnace. An excavation made about 25 years ago 
by Flinders Petrie in Tel-el-Amarna, part of which passed over into 
the Berlin Museum (Figs. 214 and 215), gives us information as to 
how the ancient Egyptians prepared and treated their glass. This 
excavation represents an ancient Egyptian glass works of the year 1370 
B.c. According to the researches of Flinders Petrie , the glass was obtained 
by fusing together quartz and alkaline salt in clay crucibles. A colourless 
product resulted, to which coloured frit was added, whose preparation we 
shall return to presently. During the fusing process, tongs were used to 
take samples of the fused mass, which served for testing the colour. 
When the glassy flux had the right colour, it was cooled, and the crucible 
was broken, in order to release the glass. In this way, a shapeless mass 
was formed, which had to be given a suitable form, to enable it to be 
worked. For this purpose, the pieces of glass were separately softened in 
the furnace, and then rolled oh a hard base by means of a metal stick. 
In this way, a cylindrical glass stick was formed, which represented the 
raw material and served for making objects of the most varied kinds. 

154 GLASS 

The coloured frit which was used to tint the glass proper, is simply, 
according to its chemical composition, finely divided glass flux, whose 
origin was probably due to an accident. The raw materials used for 

-Pieces of Glass out of the glass factory of Tcl-cl-Amarna (about 
Variously coloured Sticks, Fragments of Beads 
Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

-Fragments of coloured glass Sticks and Vessels from Tel-el-Amarna (about 

1370 B.C.) 

Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 


manufacturing glass probably in many cases contained iron. Now, if the 
glass flux contains iron, it acquires a different colour, according to whether 
it is treated in an oxidizing or a reducing fire, namely reddish-brown or 
green respectively (as in the case of red and green wine-bottles) . As it is 
probable that before the use of crucibles, the 
glass flux was melted together in pits dug in 
the ground, and as the fire could not be accu- 
rately regulated, even when crucibles were 
used, red and green masses were obtained indis- 
criminately, which were used for colouring the 
glass. Later, further colours were added, which 
arose from various impurities which were con- 
tained in the materials used. There are violet 
glasses, which contain manganese, blue and red 
glasses which owe their colour to the presence 
of copper compounds, and so forth. Experi- 
ence and accident served as a teacher, and gave 
rise to an ever-lengthening scale of colours. In 
the course of time, it was also learned how to 
remove the colour from a glass tinted through 
the presence of iron, by adding substances con- 
taining manganese ; and before this, it had been • 
recognized that when very pure Nile sand was 
used to make glass, a colourless product resulted. 

The colourless glasses of Ancient Egypt are 
indeed opaque nowadays, as they have 
become dull owing to the action of time. But 
it has been established that from the first cen- 
tury B.c. onwards, the old coloured glasses had to make way for the 
colourless glass ; that is, coloured glass went out of fashion. Although 
this signifies an advance technically, it also denotes the decay of the 
glazier’s art, which was at its zenith in the i8th and 19th Dynasty (1550 
to 1200 B.C.). At this zenith, there was an abundance of colours and of 
forms, such as had never existed before, and never occurred since. 

The cylindrical sticks which came out of the glass crucibles were, as 
already mentioned, the supply which was used for further working the 
glass into all types of vessels, vases, amulets, ornaments, and even 
imitation jewels, and so forth. The relief from Beni Hasan, quoted above, 
has led some archaeologists to surmise that the art of the glass-blower was 
indigenous in Egypt in very early times. But it has been shown that the 
vases and other hollow vessels were not blown, but were formed in another 
way. A clay core was first made, which had the shape of the vase to be 
formed. It was fastened on to a stick, so that it could be conveniently 
manipulated. A glass stick from the supply made as above was then 
taken, softened and placed in this state about the clay core. A second 
glass stick was next treated in the same way, and a third, and so on, 
until the whole core was covered with the glass mass. The whole was 
then held in the furnace, where it was further heated, whilst being con- 

156 GLASS 

stantly rotated, so that the sticks fused together well. When the vase 
was ready, the clay core, which had become shrunken during the firing, 
was broken, and its pieces were taken out separately. In the first century 
B.e. another method of producing hollow vessels arose. Clay models were 
again used, but in this case they were not solid, but hollow moulds, which 

Fig. 217. — Glass Rosettes from the case 
of a mummy. The glass particles have 
been fixed into a layer of stucco 
Discovered at Abusir el Meleq. Berlin Museum, 
Egyptian Department 

could easily be prepared by means of 
the potter’s wheel. After they had 
been fired, the liquid glass mass was 
poured in, and was swung round 
inside, until it covered the inner 
walls. When the clay model was 
removed, a glass vessel remained 
behind. Even large objects were 
produced in this way from glass. 

Thus Sesostris had a statue cast in 
glass as early as 1643 b.c. 

Glass-blowing was unknown in 
Egypt as late as the time of the 
Ptolemys (311-30 b.c.). It is with- 
out doubt an invention of the 
Phoenicians, which was made some 
time between 20 b.c. and a . d . 20 
in Sidon. How the idea of blowing glass came up can probably no 
longer be established. The assumption of Kisa that it arose through 
observing soap bubbles is probably hardly in agreement with the facts, 
as the use of a soap which would be appropriate for producing bubbles is 
more than doubtful among the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians learned the 
art of making glass and working it from the Egyptians, and they spread 
it over wide parts of the Orient. The discovery of glass-blowing gave 
their glass industry a new impetus. The first products of glass-blowing 
were small vases, as well as vessels for balsams and essences. They were 
ornamented in relief, and on them— mostly on the handles — the artists, 
who were not a little proud of their art, perpetuated their names. The 
best known of them was called Ennio. 

Fig. 218. — Statue of a Man. Made of 
Limestone ; the eyes are of glass 
Of the Old Kingdom in Egypt. Found at Saq- 
qarah. Height, 2 ft. ; width, ii in. ; length, 14 in. 
Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 



Wc must here mention another ancient Egyptian form of the art of 
making glass, which was communicated to the Phoenicians by the ancient 
Egyptians, and thence to other peoples. We mentioned above the 
peculiar prismatic piece of glass, dating back to the time of 1830 b.c., 
which was prepared from blue and white strips of glass, and which 
exhibits at its two ends the name of the King Amenemhat III ; the letters 
are in blue written characters on a white background (Fig. 313). There 
are other examples of similar pieces of glass with coloured stripes of this 
kind. They were prepared by laying the glass sticks which had been 
produced in the furnace side by side and heating them up until they fused 
together. While they were still hot and soft, they were pulled out length- 
wise. This is a method of working glass which is still used in many cases 
nowadays, and is called millefiori-work. (See also Figs. 215 and 217.) 

Another branch of ancient Egyptian glass-work was the production of 
artificial eyes, which were placed in mummies, as well as in statues 
(see Fig. 218, p. 156). These artificial eyes are made of all sorts of 
substances, and are in some cases compound. The iris and pupil consist 
of glass ; the sclerotis (white skin of the eye) of a metal alloy, ivory, 
pearl, felspar (South Kensington Museum, 5th or 6th Dynasty), marble 
(Mus6e du Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels) or else entirely of glass 
(National Museum, Stockholm, 700 b.c.) . Whether the ancient Egyptians 
also made artificial eyes for living beings is not known. Ebers considers 
it not improbable. 


In antiquity, as we have already mentioned, besides the Egyptians 
the Phoenicians were also excellent workers in glass. They seem to have 
monopolized the trade with glass, for in Syria and Judaea there was no 
glass industry at all until the time of the Roman Empire. According to 
Pinner, the name for glass is to be found only once in the Bible (Job xxviii. 
17), that is, in one of the latest books of the Old Testament, where it is 
mentioned as a precious substance, of equal value with gold. This leads 
us to infer that in the ancient Jewish Kingdom the gkass derived from the 
Phoenicians was very dear. The high price may be explained, if we con- 
sider the technique necessary to work it, as well as the fact of its being 
fragile, and the consequent difficulties of transport. In Mesopotamia, 
too, glass seems to have been imported, but not to have been made on the 
spot. It appears doubtful whether the famous vase of King Sargon, in 
•the British Museum, which dates back to the eighth century, — it is bag- 
shaped, and made of semi-transparent green glass, — is actually an Assyrian 


Nor did the Greeks practise the art of making and working glass to any 
considerable extent ; indeed it appears doubtful whether glass was known 
at all in wider circles in Greece at the, time of Aristophanes (450 to 385 
B.c.) . An indication that it was very little in use is given by the fact that 
it was considered quite astonishing when the Persians, as was reported. 

158 GLASS 

drank out of glasses. Besides this, the price of glass was as high as that 
of jewels. Nevertheless, Kurt Muller brought to light, among his excava- 
tions in Pylos — which produced objects of the Mycenaean period (1600 to 
1200 B.c.) — a beautiful transparent blue piece of a vase, which, when 
examined by Rhousopoulos, was found to be a potassium glass, which it 
was difficult to fuse and was coloured blue by a compound of copper 
oxide. From this Rhousopoulos concludes that glass was made in 
Greece even at that time, and endeavours to support this view by quoting 
other objects from the Museum at Athens. 


Glass-work attained an extraordinarily high degree of excellence among 
the Romans, but their knowledge is probably also of Egyptian origin, 
and is presumably traced back to the glass-blowing works at Alexandria. 
Among the Romans, glass became an object of common use. Even in the 
first century B.c. , it displaced the gold and silver goblets from the banquets, 
and even at that early time windows made of glass were to be found in the 
towns of the Roman Empire, — later they were made of a considerable 
size. Panes of the dimensions i ft. by 2 ft. have been preserved up to the 
present day. It may well be assumed that still larger panes — probably 
made by casting — ^were also prepared, for in Pompeii there are bronze 
frameworks for panes, in which there are fragments of glass from sheets 
that must have been about 21 in. by 28 in. in size. The apodytemm 
(dressing-room) of the small hot baths of Pompeii had a very large pane, 
whose dimensions were 40 in. by 28 in., and half-inch thick. The pane is 
matt on the one side, and it is assumed that it was made matt by grinding 
it. The pane was fixed in a frame of bronze, which turned on two pivots 
attached half-way up. Otherwise, the frames of glass windows were 
mostly of wood. The Egyptians also used cast glass plates for covering 
their paintings. Since the art of making glass is to be traced back to the 
Egyptians, it was carried out by the Romans in exactly the same way. 
Above all, the process of decolorizing glass was used, and in the main 
colourless glass was prepared, which was afterwards ornamented with 
coloured glasses in a particular way. From the researches of Roters, who 
examined fragments of colourless glass found in Saalburg, we know that 
manganese was used throughout as the decolorizing substance ; so we 
see that the Romans used exactly the same means as we do nowadays. 
The colouring substances likewise very much resemble our own. In 
general they are the same as those used for the glazes of earthenware 
objects. According to Roters, ferrous oxide was used for green, cobalt 
for blue, ferric oxide for reddish brown, brown-stone containing iron for 
black, manganese for violet ; further, according to the analyses of K. A. 
tiofmann, copper was used for red, blue and green, chromium for green, 
antimony and uranium for yellow and orange. Gold was fused into the 
glass mostly in the form of gold-leaf. The Roman gold glasses are vessels 
which contain figures and so forth made of gold-leaf between two layers 
of glass. Lines and whole pieces were scratched out of the gold-leaf, 


so that the back ground lay bare. Heated glass, particularly glass thread, 
was dipped into gold-dust before being further used. When being blown, 
a drop of glass so treated or covered with gold-leaf grew to a great size, the 
gold becoming very finely distributed, and giving a very beautiful efiect. 
A very beautiful antique red glass flux, which was first found in Pompeii 
in 1844, is the so-called ‘ Haematinum which was investigated by Petten- 
kofer, and was found to be a silicate of sodium and calcium, containing 
also lead, of which the brilliant lustre was due to the lead, whereas the 
striking blood-red colour was due to cuprous oxide. Pettenkofer arrived 
at the following values : 

Per cent. 

Silicon dioxide . . . . , , . , 49'90 

Sodium . . . ri'54 

Lime . . . ... . . . 7>2o 

Magnesia . . , . . . . . . *87 

Lead oxide . ... , . . . 15*51 

Cuprous oxide . . . , . , . .11*03 

Ferrous oxide (with traces of manganese oxide) . . 2*10 

Aluminium . . . . . . . .1*20 

The method of producing this excellent glass, which was called obsidian 
or obsian by the Romans, is described by Pliny (XXXVI, 197) : ‘ There 
is also a kind of obsian artificially coloured, for table utensils ; like- 
wise a glass which is quite red — the so-called haematinum (blood-colour) — 
and is not transparent.' Ibid., he writes : ‘ But the glass is fused 
with light dry wood, copper and nitrum (probably soda) being added. 
It is fused in furnaces uninterruptedly like ore, and gives blackish 
masses of very rich colouring. In the workshop these masses are again 
fused up, and are coloured.’ 

Pettenkofer has succeeded in reproducing this ancient obsidian glass 
of the Romans by the method prescribed by Hiny, and he discovered that 
the black mass first obtained acquires a blood-red colour when melted 
again. Hence the expression of Pliny, tinguitur, is not to be read as 
meaning ‘ it is dyed but rather that ‘ it colours 

To the art of colouring glass in manifold ways, there later became 
added further devices by which various effects were produced. Above all, 
it was understood how to give glass objects metallic reflections. We do 
not mean those peculiar reflecting surfaces, which we nowadays see on 
almost all the excavated . ancient Roman or antique glasses. The 
iridescence of these glasses is sometimes due to an insufficient decoloriza- 
tion, but is mostly due to the fact that in the course of centuries the glass 
has become decomposed through the humic acids (that is, acids in the 
vegetable soil) and other substances on its surface, which covered it with 
an iridescent layer. The iridescence here referred to first appeared in 
late Roman times, and was brought about by applying compounds of 
metals with resins to the glass, and burning them in at a dull red heat. 
Red tints were obtained with copper, gold tints with silver, and blue tints 
with bismuth. Franchet has succeeded in recent times in obtaining 
exactly the same results by cop5?ing the Roman process. The fact that 
similar iridescence can be produced by marking veiy fine lines on the 

i6o GLASS 

surface seems to have been already known in Greece, where no glass was 
used, but transparent quartz plates were placed on a silver base, and 
riffled by tracing straight lines on them ; the purpose of these was prob- 
ably to produce an iridescent effect (Rhousopoulos, No. 2708 of the 
Collection of the Greek National Museum). 

Fig, 219. — Roman Glass-blowing 

A pot from a cremation-grave, and also various other glass objects obtained by blowing. Provincial 
Museum, Treves 

The celebrated myrrhine vessels {murrinavasa, also pocula murnna or 
mynhina) of the Rornans, which were first brought to Rome (64 b.c.) by 
Pompey from the treasures of Mithridates, were made of amilky mass of glass 
with red and white spots ; the milky appearance was due to an addition of 
calcium phosphate, which had probably been added in the form of bone flour. 
It showed vivid opalescence, and cost a great sum. According to Pliny, 
the Emperor Nero paid 300 talents (about £731,000) for a myrrhine goblet. ^ 
Thus the Romans had at their disposal excellent raw material coloured 
in manifold ways, from which they knew how to make objects by ingeni- 
ously working them ; these objects still excite the greatest admiration, 
on account of their technical perfection and artistic beauty. The means 
they used were the blow-pipe and tongs of the glass-blower, so that the 
tools were the same as those now in use ; and since the feet, handles, and 
so forth, were specially added, the ancient Roman method of working glass 
hardly differed from ours in the essential points. The glass was blown in 
moulds which — like ours — could be opened out so as to allow the glass 
object to be freed. Numerous pieces of ancient Roman glassware exhibit 
^ Pliny, N. H, XXXVII, 20 ; the figures are doubtful, but a very large sum 
is meant. — Trans. 


the seam of the mould ; this is the case not only with vessels, but also 
with the figures of animals and so on. To this general method of working 
glass, there are also special branches, of which we must mention, above all, 

Fig. 220. — Roman Flasks in Glass. Blown and ornamented 
Provincial Museum, Trfeves 

Fig. 221.— Roman dicUreta Vessels (collection of Rath) 
Berlin, Altes Museum, Antiquarium 

the serpentine windings, in which all manner of ornaments and twisted 
lines and other designs were applied to the vessels, in such a way that the 
glass thread — often coloured—-was fused onto the corresponding windings 


of the object. The late Roman vessels called diatreta were made by melt- 
ing on the glass threads ; they were covered with a raised network of such 
threads. These threads do not, however, touch the vessel all along their 
length, but only at particular points. How they were made is not known ; 
some believe that the network was ground out of the thick glass. How- 
ever, coloured and sometimes also uncoloured drops of glass of the most 
varied size were dropped on to the glass vessel. In this way trinkets 
arose, which have again become the fashion with us. 

Engraving on glass was developed to a particular degree in the Roman 
glass-works. At first, simple ornamental lines were engraved into the 

glass, and later, whole scenes 
were drawn on it. These 
engravings were effected by 
means of grinding wheels. 
Afterwards, flashed glass was 
produced by covering one 
kind of glass with glass of a 
different colour. When en- 
gravings were then also cut 
out of the upper glass, so 
that the lower layer came to 
view, beautiful effects arose, 
as for example in the famous 
Portland Vase, which till 
recently was in the British 
Museum ; in it a blue back- 
ground is covered with a 
white opaque glass one-fifth 
inch thick, on which artistic 
designs have been engraved. 

We must here just touch 
on some special points which 
are closely connected with 
glass-making. Firstly, we 
must make reference to the 
often repeated story of un- 
breakable glass, which plays 
a part among various 
ancient writers. According to the narration of Pliny (XXXVI, 195), a 
man is supposed to have come to the Emperor Tiberius, and to have 
shown him a flexible glass. The Emperor had his workshop destroyed in 
order that this glass should not lower the value of metals. Petronius 
likewise reports in his Dinner of Trimalchio of an Emperor to whom a 
man is supposed to have presented a glass vessel which did not break when 
it was thrown on the ground. The Emperor had this man executed, in 
order that gold and silver should not lose their value through the inven- 
tion ! This story is often repeated in this form, indeed so often that we 
feel constrained to believe that there is some element of truth in it. In 

Fig. 222. — Roman Pane of Glass with an engraved 
representation of a chariot race in a circus 
Provincial Museum, Trdves 



spite of all efforts to explain it, as for example those of Lippmann, Rath- 
gen, and so forth, it has not been possible for us to trace back the tale of 
the malleable or unbreakable glass to any ancient art that has in the 
meantime become known to usT 

A further question which is connected with glass, is whether the 
Romans knew of glass mirrors and spectacles. The first question is 
without doubt to be answered in the affirmative, and we do not need even 
to support the remark by reference to Pliny, who states that glass, and 
particularly black mirrors, were invented at Sidon. Fragments of glass 
mirrors have been found in the Roman camp at Saalburg, as well as in 
other places, for example 
at Ratisbon (Regensburg) 
and so forth. They were 
made by pasting thin 
leaves of gold, silver, cop- 
per or tin as a backing to 
the glass. As the glass 
was not polished, it was 
not very smooth, and so 
the mirrors probably gave 
distorted images. But in 
the Roman and Gallic 
tombs at Reims, mirrors 
have also been found 
which date back to the 
third or fourth century 
A.D., which were presum- 
ably made by a quite 
different method. These 
mirrors resembled watch- 
glasses, that is, they were 
curved and round pieces 
of glass, two inches or one 
inch and a fifth in diameter, which had lead pasted on the back. The 
curved glass surface, which was perhaps cut out of a glass balloon, 
was at any rate first warmed in order to avoid cracking, and the lead 
was then poured in. The mirror of course likewise gave a diminished 
and distorted image. 

Spectacles were not known in antiquity ; indeed, the effects of concave 
and convex glass lenses had not apparently been observed, or they were 
not made use of. The only report derived from antiquity concerning the 
use of an arrangement resembling spectacles, comes from Pliny, who 
relates that the Emperor Nero used a polished emerald to observe the 
contests of the gladiators. From this it has been concluded that the 
Emperor Nero was short-sighted, and that he used a sort of lorgnon or 
monocle. ' Lenses ’ which have been found (in the ruins of Tyre, a 

^ A method of making elastic glass has recently been discovered in Vienna, — 
H. L. B. 

Fig. 2Z3. — Milleliori Dish (Roman) 

Green and white flowers, with red cups. Berlin, Altcs Museum, 



grave at Nola, Pompeii, Trdy, and so forth) served as ornaments for 
leather belts and similar objects, but not as magnifying glasses. On the 
other hand, the Greeks and the Romans were familiar with the magnifying 
power of glass ‘ spheres ’ (or glass globes filled with water, used by shoe- 
makers for concentrating the lamplight). 


A particular branch of the ancient glass industry was the production 
of artificial gems, which flourished at a very early date. In ancient 
Egypt we sometimes find in the jewellery buried with kings genuine stones 
mixed with artificial stones made of coloured glass fluxes. This need not 
lead us to think that a fraud was intended ; as at that time the physical 
and chemical processes, which later allowed natural and artificial stones 
to be differentiated, were not yet known, a glass flux which accidentally 
was particularly beautifully coloured, may have been mistaken for a 
precious stone. It is true that later the making of artificial stones 
developed into a particular art, for which there are numerous rules ; for 
example, the ‘ new Stockholm Papyrus ’, which dates back to the third 
century, contains quite a number, which very often seem of little value. 
In .Rome, too, Seneca reports that there were whole factories for making 
artificial stones. In Egypt these, false stones were produced by soaking 
minerals that were of a leafy or porous constitution, above all pyrites and 
topaz, with coloured solutions, which were then absorbed ; whereas in 
Rome abundant use seems to have been made of the property of lead to 
impart to glass a high refrangibility. Stained glass fluxes were produced, 
whose colours were brought about by the ingredients already mentioned 
above, and lead or lead compounds were added in abundance. A glass 
flux was then obtained which exhibited two of the most important 
properties of the genuine stone, namely the beautiful colour and the high 
refractive power. The hardness of these artificial stones was, just like that 
of the Strass or imitation diamond nowadays, made in the same way, 
much less than the genuine stone, but this was difficult to prove, owing to 
lack of appropriate methods of investigation. How little was known 
about these methods of investigation is clear from the fact that Pliny 
could say no more about hardness tests than that ‘ the diamond 
scratches all stones, genuine ones and false ones.' For the rest, according 
to researches of Rhousopoulos in Greece, it appears that even in pre- 
Mycenaean times artificial pearls were made, namely by melting together 
lime, magnesia and silica ; these were likewise coloured. Thus the 
imitation of precious natural products seems to be a very ancient art. 



C oncerning the textile arts of antiquity, that is, the production 
of yarns and textiles, we are in a curious position. We read 
everywhere of the beautiful robes which were at that time made, 
but nowhere do we find clear descriptions as to the actual process, as to 
what devices were used, as to how the raw materials and the finished 
textiles were treated, and so forth. Taken all in all, the textile indu-stry 
must have reached a high standard and flourished among .all peoples of 
antiquity. Even the Old Testament describes the precious hangings of 
the Tabernacle of the Lord (Exodus xxvi.), which were skilfully made and 
artivStically executed. Homer tells us of the masterly way in which the 
Grecian women spun and wove ; Helen of Troy knows no better way of 
giving expression to her interest in the battles between the Greeks and 
the Trojans, than by representing the mon her loom in richly coloured 
pictures. In Egypt, as well as among the peoples of the Orient, gorgeous 
robes were worn, and Greek vases and wall pictures at Pompeii bear 
witness to artistic weaving. In spite of all this, however, the secrets of 
the actual art are fairly well preserved from us. From all these descrip- 
tions and representations, we get acquainted only with the products. 
Nevertheless, laborious investigation has succeeded in finding out at least 
a few details of the textile arts of antiquity, so that we at least get a 
glimpse of them, even if we cannot get an unbroken view. 


The material about whose extraction and working we are best informed 
is silk, which however w'as introduced into Europe fairly late. The 
origins of silk culture are to be sought in China, where it was a home- 
industry as early as 3000 b.c. The historical work Shu-king reports 
of that time that Shon-wung, the successor of the Emperor Fu-Iii, made 
efforts to spread the cultivation of mulberry trees and the breeding of 
silkworms, as widely as possible, in order to encourage the art of making 
fishing-lines, vhich were drawn from the intestinal contents of the worms. 
These threads also served as strings for musical instruments. The actual 
unwinding of the cocoon, such as is nowadays practised, is supposed to 
have been introduced by the "lady of Si-Ling,'’ the wdfe of Huang-ti ; 
according to other reports it was her daughter Liu Siuin the year 2698 b.c. 


While observing a silkworm, she conceived the idea of re-tracing the 
winding process carried out by the worm and then using it for weaving. 

In grateful commemoration of this invention, which was so important 
for Chinese civilization, the Empress was elevated to the rank of a goddess. 
For twenty centuries, the silk industry then flourished exclusively in the 
province of Shantung, where the silk was not onlyproduced but also dyed. 
In the ancient Chinese textile industry, silk was obtained and worked on 
the whole just as we are accustomed to do nowadays. Above all, the 
cocoons were wound off before the moths had escaped, which was quite in 
contrast with the processes among the other peoples of Eastern Asia, where 
later, when the silk industry had spread from China, the moths were first 
allowed to escape, and the silk thread was then unravelled from the 
cocoon. On this account, the separate parts of the twisted threads of 
course became shorter, and consequently less durable. After the silk 
thread had been unwound, it was scoured, that is, the gum was boiled off 
from it, for which purpose probably a mixture of plant- ash and oil was 
used. This was followed by dyeing. The silk was ornamented in various 
ways, partly by painting, partly by embroidering, but later also by 
weaving in all sorts of ornaments. As among almost all peoples of 
antiquity, so also among the Chinese, gold threads were woven into the 
material, indeed even birds’ feathers. A quite particular art developed, 
which consisted in producing a sort of ‘half silk ’, which was obtained by 
making the warp, around which the weaving was effected, out of linen, 
into which silken threads were then interwoven in such a way that these 
warp threads became covered. This woven material then had the 
appearance of pure silk. 

In the fourth century a.d. the silk industry spread from China into 
Japan, after it had previously passed over into India. The Indians 
indeed had their own silk industry before, in which — as already men- 
tioned — the cocoon was not killed — for religious reasons. The moth was 
allowed to escape, and the silk was then wound off. In this way, a sort 
of ‘ wild silk ’ was produced, an inferior product, which was so different 
from Chinese silk, that when Chinese silk was introduced into India, the 
Indians had no idea that this wonderfully lustrous textile could be obtained 
from the same animal as that from which the Indian silk goods were 
derived. The introduction of Chinese silk into India probably occurred 
about the third century B.c. Among all other peoples, silk appeared 
at a rather late date, and although there are certain passages in Herod- 
otus, in the Bible, and so forth, treating of textiles, which suggest silk, 
there may be opposed to such assumptions that only the external appear- 
ance of this textile is described in these passages, and that there is not a 
single datum which allows us to draw inferences about its chemical or 
physical constitution. Nor has it been possible to ascertain when silk 
came to Europe. Although silk materials are mentioned among the booty 
of Alexander the Great in his Persian campaign (331 b.c.), we cannot 
assert definitely any better than before whether it is really silk that is 
meant. We have more trustworthy data from Pliny and Aristotle, who 
mention that the first Chinese textiles that appeared were unravelled, 


and that the threads so obtained were split; in order to increase their 
number. They were then woven into finer, almost transparent, tissue. 
This is a proof of the great value of silk at that time, which in Caligula’s 
reign was as dear as gold. A pound of purple silk at that time cost about 
£100. At the time of the Persian wars, when there was a lack of raw 
materials, the price of a pound of silk rose to ;^35o, and that of purple silk 
to almost four times this amount. 


If we disregard silk — as we know so little about when it was first 
worked by the different peoples of antiquity — ^we get approximately the 
following picture of the fabrics used in the textile industry. All yarns and 
textiles used in ancient Egypt and Babylon consisted solely of linen, 
cotton, wool, as well as ‘ byssos ’ or ' shell silk ’, which was obtained 
from a river shell (see below). Cotton first appears around a.d. 500 
in Upper Egypt, and seems to have been introduced from Persia. The 
Assyrians and Babylonians also made use of cotton, besides wool. More- 
over, the hairs of certain species of goat were used ; among many Oriental 
peoples, yarns were made from this hair. In India there arose in this way 
the industry of Kashmir (Cashmere) shawls at a very early date. Jute 
was also cultivated in India. 

The Greeks and Romans presumably were at first acquainted only with 
flax, to which there soon was added sheep's wool. Many investigators, 
however (including Bltimner) , consider wool to be the older material. In 
the fifth century b.c. they became acquainted with cotton. Further, 
bombykia, probably a sort of wild silk, was introduced from Kos before 
real silk appeared. It probably resembled wild Indian silk, and was 
derived from the wild silk moth Bombyx Otus. It served for making the 
famous Coan robes, mostly coloured with purple and worn by elegant 
Roman women. According to unconfirmed reports (see above) , Chinese silk 
was then supposed to have come into being at the end of the first or at the 
beginning of the second century b.c. At any rate, Tacitus [Annal. II, 
33) writes of the luxurious display that was made of the silk textiles that 
entered Rome with the war booty. The Germanic tribes chiefly culti- 
vated flax. They further attired themselves in animal skins, and Tacitus 
{Germania 17) reports that the women often wore linen garments decorated 
with purple stripes. For the rest, we must again emphasize that all 
ancient waiters are fairly untrustworthy in their remarks about the 
textile industry. The terms for the different materials are confused, and 
are not always correctly translated. For example, it has not been possible 
to determine whether silk was known to the Jews. The word ‘ schesch ’ 
which occurs in Exodus and is translated by Luther as silk, was, according 
to the researches of Forster [De Bysso Antiquorum, page 8) probably 
only fine linen. Further, the name ‘ byssos ’ ^ seems to have denoted 
sometimes shell silk, and sometimes cotton, 

1 Concerning the meaning of see the detailed data in Pauly-Wissowa, Real- 

Emyklopadie der klassischen Alteriams-wissenschaft, Stuttgart, 1899, Vol. Ill, 
Column 1108-1114. 


What confusion there is among the different terms may be illustrated 
by the following example ; Herodotus (Book 3) asserts that ‘ bombykia ' 1 
is derived from the wool of a wild tree in India ; Theophrastus regards 
silk as the product of a plant ; Strabo (Book 15) states that it is derived 
from the red bark of a tree ; Servius confuses silk with wool ; Pliny 
(XI, 22) relates that on the island of Cos, the blossoms of the cypress that 
have been struck down by rain become transformed into silkworms ; 
Ammianus (xxiii, 6, 67) speaks even in the fourth century a.d. of a fine 
wool-like substance which comes from the leaves of a tree ; and so forth. 
Thus the textile industry of the ancients presents an almost insoluble 
mystery for the technical invsetigator, at least so far as the literature is 
concerned. To this there is to be added the fact that the method of 
working up these manifold raw materials is nowhere described, probably 
for the reason that it was in general practised at home, and because the 
ancient writers for that reason assumed that the details were known. 
They therefore preferred to write of other more interesting things. 

So far as any assertions can be made at all or conjectures can be 
Justified from the finds available, we may make the following remarks about 
the technical working-up of the raw material. 

Wool was at first probably obtained, not by shearing the animals, 
but by pulling out the hairs, a method that persisted to some degree as 
late as in Pliny's time (Pliny, VII, 191). The shears were used later, 
probably first by the Romans, by whom this method was then spread 
among other peoples. They had the form of the shears nowadays used for 
shearing sheep, but were larger and clumsier. The wool was then washed 
(see below), dried, and beaten, in order to remove impurities that were 
still clinging to it, and then pulled apart — ^which must have been done by 
hand— and combed. In that way, the product which we nowadays call 
‘ top or sliver ' was produced. This was then spun and woven, after 
having been previously coloured when circumstances demanded it. 

Flax, which was grown in great quantities in Egypt as early as the 
year 2500 b.c., and which was even earlier worked in the Orient, served 
for making linen, which was a universally used material in Egypt, whereas 
in Homer’s time it was w'orn in Greece only by the eltte. In Rome, too, 
it was at first used as the dress of the rich, until it later became univer- 
sally worn. The statement of Tacitus {Germania 17) that among the 
ancient Germans the woman w’-as more often dressed in linen garments than 
themm||g|M|Kus to conclude that here too linen was dearer than animal 
was also grown in later times, but it remained 

— as we can ganner which resembles that still in use to-day 

antiquity and ^^^^everf excavations among almost all peoples of 

The stalks were, ^ of weedW by the report of Pliny (XIX, 16-18). 
In this way all sorted ouW nowadays, but were pulled out. 

particularly cate' Indian^ 

^ . TT-^T -n Hubner found, bv microscooicallv 

after the secoh-d > 

^r Hiibner found, by microscopically 
T^^kobtained from a .shrub which dies down . 



examining two mummies of the 12th Dynasty (about 2500 B.c.), that the 
material consisted exclusively of linen. Between its threads, however, 
there were fibres of China-grass, nettles, and other plants which had 
grown in between the flax. The stems were then soaked for several 
weeks in water, by means of weights, so that the fibres became 
loosened from the stem. This was followed by drying in the sun, further 
drying on hot stones, and beating with clubs. For breaking up the 
flax wood seems to have been used, which was provided with diagonal 
strips also of wood. In this way flax fibres were obtained, which were 
then combed. After the fibres had been loosened by the wood they were 
laid parallel by means of combing (‘ hackling ’), and the too short threads 
(oakum) were removed, and the spinning could begin. The woven linen 
was then beaten by means of sticks — a sort of milling. 

Concerning the preparation of cotton, strictly speaking we know 
nothing at all. It seems to have been obtained from various plants ; 
at any rate Strabo mentions materials which were produced from a nut 
that occurs in Egypt, the contents of which were suitable for spinning 
and weaving. This can therefore refer only to cotton. That this was 
actually used, is supported, not only by various excavations, but also 
by further data of occasional writers, whom we mentioned above, and 
whose statements appear to mean that what was alleged to be ‘ silk ’ was 
obtained from the bark of trees. This probably also refers to the extrac- 
tion of cotton. Herodotus distinguishes carefully between linen and 
cotton. Concerning the mail-shirt of King Amasis he relates (III, 37) : 

‘ This is made of linen, and many pictures are woven into it, and it is 
adorned with gold and cotton.’ 


The fibre which was obtained in the manner just mentioned, no matter 
whether it consisted of wool, flax, hemp or cotton, was next spun, in order 
to produce the thread adapted to weaving. Spinning was probably carried 
out among all ancient peoples according to the same method ; at least 
excavations and pictorial representations lead to this conclusion. 

The spinning whorl, a disc provided with a round hole and often 
ornamented, is everywhere used for spinning. It is made of all sorts 
of materials, sometimes of bone, sometimes of stone or glass, or of 
various metals. The whorl has been used since the earliest times ; 
it is found among the ancient peoples of Asia as well as among the 
Egyptians and the Trojans, as the excavations of Schliemann have 
shown. Spinning and weaving, these important branches of the textile 
craft of antiquity, were exclusively domestic arts, and, with rare excep- 
tions, the affair of women. In many cases, the whorl used by a woman 
in her lifetime was buried with her. Spinning was carried out in much the 
same way as nowadays in the South of Italy, in Greece, and in other coun- 
tries along the Mediterranean. The combed fibres that are to be spun are 
placed on a distaff mostly made from cane, which the women set up 
next to themselves in their homes. When they went out, or chatted in 
front of their doors while they were spinning, they took with them a distaff 

F I G . 225. — Egyptian Fig. 226. — Roman Spin- 
Spindle, with an attached die with Whorl. Found 
Whorl at Mainz 

From a grave. Meiduni. Of Museum of Antiquities of the 
wood. Length 6 in. Berlin City of Mainz 

Museum, Egyptian Department 


which they could thrust through their belts. The whorl was then placed 
on the spindle. This spindle was a round rod of wood, metal, or bone, 
10 to 14 in. long. Since wood rots, many whorls have been preserved 
but very few spindles, and these were then of metal or bone. But we 
know them from pictorial representations. Further, metal spindles are 
known. The wood spindle carries a notch at the top, whereas the metal 
spindle is mostly provided with a hook. The woman who is spinning 
draws down some of the raw material from the distaff, and jams it in the 
incision of the spindle, or fastens it to the metal spindle by the hook. She 

Fig. 224. — Egyptian Dis- 
taff for Spinning 
(Made of the straw of Durra or 
Turkey millet.) Length loj in. 
Berlin Museum, Egyptian De- 

then turns the spindle with a skilful movement of her hand, which gives 
the whorl its necessary momentum to keep up the motion a little longer 
than would be the case otherwise, and throws it into the air. Hanging 
by the thread, the spindle continues to turn, winding up the thread. As 
soon as the thread is long enough, the spindle dances on the stone floor of 
the house, where it continues merrily to turn during the whole process of 
spinning. The finished thread is wound up on the spindle (see also Catullus, 
LXIV, 31 1 — ^where the process is described in verse). The whole process 
is still carried out unchanged in form nowadays in certain parts of Southern 
Italy, for example in the neighbourhood of Naples. 

The spinning was not always carried out in this popular way. There 
w^ere also derived methods. Thus a picture on a Grecian (Attic) vase of 



the fifth century B.c., which is in the Berlin Museum, allows us to see that 
the combing, or the other raw material, was sometimes simply taken up 
in the left hand, and laid across the thigh and forearm (Fig. 227). The 
naked right leg was then sup- 
ported on, and firmly held 
against, a wooden frame- 
work. The right hand 
draws out the thread and 
compresses it, by rubbing 
and turning it on the leg. 

The finished thread falls into 
a work-basket. Perhaps 
this process served only to 
prepare a somewhat coarse 
‘ rough thread ’, which was 
then placed on the distaff, 
in order to be spun into 
‘ fine thread ’. Instead of 
the thigh, a special vessel 
was often used in Greece 
for milling Ihe thread; it 
was a clay pipe, which was 
supported over both thighs, 
the legs being crossed. 

This pipe, called enivrftqov 
or livog, which has the form of one half of a pipe 10 to 12 in. long, and closed 
in front by a plate, is often beautifully decorated with paintings (Fig. 228). 
After the spinning, the thread was further worked, and sometimes indeed 
it underwent various kinds of preliminary treatment. Thus it was 

Fig. 228 . — Svos (spindle) 
Athens, National Museum 

strengthened by twisting together, several single threads. Herodotus 
(III, 47) relates the following about the mail-.shirt of Amasis, which we 
have already mentioned : * What excites our wonder in it, however, is 
every single thread ; for the threads are not coarse, and yet each one con- 
sists of 360 single threads, which can all be distinguished.' Further, gold 


thread was spun into these threads, for the gold-workers of antiquity were 
able to draw out this metal into very fine wire. In this way garments 
threaded with gold were obtained (Herodotus, IX, 8o). Asbestos threads 
also seem to have been added to the ordinary threads, in order to obtain 
fireproof garments, and sometimes asbestos was even used in the pure 
state in which it was derived from Germania and Britain. 


The further treatment of the thread was performed by plaiting or 
knitting it, and further by knotting, embroidering and weaving it. The 
first-mentioned methods of working require no further explanation. 
On the other hand, weaving is of particular interest to us, for, as we know, 
through this branch of industry most splendid carpets were made — in 
addition to those that were knotted— and gorgeous figured garments as 
well as all the various kinds of textiles required in the household. Weav- 
ing too was a work for women and for the home, and was carried out by 
means of a loom which fully deserves to be called primitive. Although 
the looms made of wood are no longer preserved, we can recognize them 
from pictures on vases, for example on some that date back to the year 
500 B.c. and were excavated in Thebes (in the British Museum in London) 
(^Fig. 231). 

The ancient loom— probably among all peoples — consisted of two 
vertical wooden stakes, which were at first simply thrust into the earth, 
but were later fastened on to a horizontal bar. They were likewise united 
at the top by means of a bar, to which the threads of the warp 
were attached. To keep them tightly stretched, each single thread of the 
warp was weighted by means of a little ball of clay or of metal, called 
‘ weaver’s weight ’ (loom weight). In some cases perhaps several of 
these threads were tied to one such hall, or a stone, and united below. 
Looms in which the weaving was carried out from below upwards (see 
below) have a beam instead of the stones (Fig. 230). In the middle of the 
loom, there are two horizontal rods (the canons), which served to separate 
the threads of the warp into a front and a back row, so that the rows pass 
in turn in front of and behind the thread of the woof. Of course this 
process had to be alternated after every throw of the woof. The picture 
on the vase mentioned (Fig. 231) allows us to see clearly in the vertical 
stake on the left a gap or notch (or something similar) by which the 
alternation was perhaps made possible. How it actually took place is not 
clear. There is perhaps some truth in the conjecture that the rods were 
simply pushed in and drawn out from the side, and so produced the alter- 
nation. Before the alternating devices were applied for the threads of the 
warp, perhaps the method used was to hold the two rows apart by fasten- 
ing them on two beams, and then a shuttle or a bobbin was sent around 
each thread in turn, once behind and once in front — certainly a laborious 
process. The shuttle probably consisted originally of a rod provided at 
the top and bottom with notches, on which the threads of the woof were 
wound. The fact that bobbins were also used in place of the rods, on 


which the thread was simply wound, is clear from the pictures on vases 
which have been preserved. The shuttles of later times (see Fig. 232) 

Fig. 229.— Penelope’s Loom (picture on a Greek vase from Chiusi). Each thread is 
weighted by means of a loom weight 

The different heights of these weights show that half of the threails are hanging down behind the cross-bars. The 
position of the cross-bars with respect to the threads is not clearly recognizable. Bucher {III, 337) assumes that the 
warp-beam also served as the cloth-beam, and that the weaving was conducted from below upwards. Above is the 
finished woven fabric. On the topmost horizontal bar, the author suggests that there are shuttles, some empty and 
some cai-ryJng their full complement of thread. The figures in the finished fabric are embroidered, as Bliimner is i>rob- 
ably correct in assuming, for they could not have been produced by weaving on this loom 

resemble those of the present day. They are made of wood or bone, 
pointed in front and provided with a handle at the back ; they were 

means of loom weights, but by a hori- 
zontal bar. Oi! the riglit and left 
below, there is a forked end, which is 
worked by fool ; by treading these 
down alternately, the sheds or inter- 
vals between the warp-threads are pro- 
duced. In the hands of the women 
weaving, we see the weaver’s reed or 
slay. Below is the finished woven 
fabric. Thus the weaving is effected 
from below, upwards (see also page 
175). Mural painting in Beni Hasan 

hollowed out, and possessed two apertures or slits for fastening the thread. 
The shuttle was not two-sided, that is, provided with two points — ^which 

I'lG. 230. — Egyptian Loom 


would have given it symmetry, — so that it could not simply be thrown to 
and fro ; it had to be turned round each time, so that the point came in 
the direction of throw. The thread of the woof which was drawn through 
was then energetically projected by means of a flat piece of wood into 
the angle formed by the threads of the warp, in order to give the fabric the 
necessary firmness. 

In order to drive together the threads, use was made at first probably 
in all cases of the simple bar called the batten [andOf], spatha) (see Fig. 
233 centre) , which was later provided with teeth, so that it became a 
slay which had the shape of a comb {pit dig, pecten). The slay is first 
met with among the Egyptians, either in the true form of a comb (Fig. 233, 

above and below), or in that of a 
grate (Fig. 234). The slays of the 
first sort were made of wood, the 
surface to which the teeth were 
attached being slanted off in order 
to moderate the blow against the 
chain of threads, and prevent their 
becoming destroyed. The grate- 
shaped slay (Fig. 234), which is probably of Byzantine origin, consists 
of a frame covered with leather, carrying teeth made of thin flat pieces 
of wood. 

In order to weave large fabrics there was probably used, instead of 
the topmost horizontal bar, a roller on the loom, on which the finished 

Fig. 332. — Weaver’s Shuttle made of 
Bone. Found at Mainz 
Altertuinsmiiseuiu dcr Stadt Mainz 

Fig. 233. — Egyptian Weaver’s Batten (in the middle) and two Slays of Wood 
Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

piece was rolled up. According to a passage in Homer {Iliad, XXIII, 
760 ei seq.), it seems probable that cords were tied to the first, third, and 
fifth, etc. , thread, in order to raise them for passing through the shuttle, that 
is in order to form a shed, to use the technical expression.^ But this is 
known with as little certainty as so many other details of the making of 
textiles in antiquity, about which, as mentioned at the beginning, we are 
very largely restricted to making conjectures. , Weaving was carried out, 
according to the construction of the loom, either in the standing or in 

1 This much- discussed passage is to be translated as follows, according to 
Bliimner : ‘ The cane rod remains near the chest of the weaver, when she draws 
it in order to pass through the bobbin.’ 



the sitting (or crouching) posture, and either from above downwards, or 
from below upwards. 

Fig. 234. — Grate-shaped Slay (used in Egypt, of Byzantine origin). Length 2 ft., width 
4 in, " 

Berlin Muse\«n, Egyptian Department 

Herodotus writes (II, 35) : ‘ The men sit at home and weave ; 
other people weave by inserting the threads of 
the woof from above ; but the Egyptians insert 
them from below ’ (see Fig. 230). The result 
of the weaving in the case of the simple 
looms of antiquity was the so-called canvas- 
weaving, which represents a chessboard pat- 
tern on account of the regular crossing of the 
threads. By this process there were produced in 
Egypt, as is proved by remnants that have 
been preserved, examples of weaving . which are 
as fine as the finest veils of the present day. 

The embroidering mentioned under Fig. 229 
probably hardly differed at all in its manner 
of execution from that of the present day. The 
fact that the embroidery frame was also used 
is evident from the various pictures that have 
been preserved (Fig. 235). 


The process of weaving was followed by that of cleaning, which was 
necessary in particular whenever the woven materials were later to be 
dyed. At first, soap wort or fuller’s herb was used for cleaning materials ; 
Dioscorides makes particular mention of its being used for washing 
cloths and dresses. Both among the Oriental peoples, and among the 
Greeks and Romans, the fuller’s herb that was in general use was probably 
gypsophila stmthium, whose root still serves nowadays in the East for 
washing shawls, and is exported to our countries under the name of soap 
root. That it w£is used by the peoples of the Mediterranean, may be 
inferred from the circumstance that Pliny mentions it under the name 
struthion, and relates that it served for removing the fat from wool. 
In India, the roots and crushed fruits of various kinds of soap-tree 
[Sapindus emargmata, maduriensis, saponarius, senegalensis) were used. 

Fig, 235. — A Woman 
embroidering by means 
of Embroidering Frame 


Moreover, urine, which these washers or millers, who weTe ih.&fulloms of the 
Romans, collected in pitchers which had been placed for use at the street 
corners, served as a cleansing material, after it had become decomposed ; ^ 
in consequence of its content of ammonia, it removed fat and also acted 
as a cleansing agent. The cleansing action was further increased owing 
to the fat becoming partly saponified by the ammonia, that is, soap was 
formed. Of the inorganic bodies which served to cleanse materials, we 
must mention raw potash,, which was obtained by lixiviating the ashes of 
various plants. Likewise, the residue from the evaporation of waters 
from several Egyptian lakes in which soda occurred naturally, which is 
called nieiie?' in the Bible, was also used. 

The cleansing of the materials was advanced a further stage by com- 
bining a mechanical process with the chemical treatment effected by soap 
root, potashes and so forth. This mechanical process was at first very 
simple. From Egyptian pictures it is evident that the materials were 
placed on an inclined plane, of which the lower end sometimes dipped into 
the washing vessel, and they were then beaten with apparently rather 
heavy stones. The wall paintings of Civita, as well as the excavations 
of Pompeii, make it clear that among the Romans the workman stood 
in a wide vessel filled with the cleansing lye, and trod on the materials 
in the vessel with his feet, and partly milled them with his hands (Fig, 
236). As the Indians still cleanse materials mechanically by beating 
them with stones and wooden hammers, it may be assumed that the 
process was no different in ancient times. 


Chemical and mechanical cleaning was followed by dyeing. This 
procers was applied either to the thread, or — perhaps less often — to the 
finished material. Dyeing was effected either directly, by placing the 
materials in the dyeing solution, or by the method of so-called corrosive 
staining, which Pliny (XXXV, 150) describes in detail as practised among 
the Egyptians. It must be remarked parenthetically that he bases his 
description on Herodotus, who knew the process from personal obser- 
vation, and can therefore be regarded as trustworthy in this matter. 
Pliny reports : 

' In Egypt, garments are dyed according to a remarkable process. They are 
first cleaned, then soaked, not in dye, but in various substances that absorb dye ; 
these substances do not at first show in the materials, but when the materials have 
been dipped into the dyeing tun, they can be removed after being stiri ed about, 
completely dyed ; and the most wonderful thing about this is that although the tun 
contains only one kind of dye, the materials suddenly appear dyed in various colours, 
according to the nature of the dye-absorbing substances used ; and these colours 
arenot only resistant to washing, but the materials so dyed actually wear better.’ 

For the rest, the use of mordants in dyeing was also known in other 
connections. For instance, in purple dyeing, an alum mordant was used ; 
further, tartar appears to have been used for fixing the dye to the fibre. 
Perhaps lacquer was also used in dyeing ; in the baths of Titus, red 

1 Urine was largely used in England up to forty years ago for scouring cloth. 
It produced a full soft handle in the fabric. — H. L. B. 



colours have been found, which, on examination by the English chemist 
Davy, proved themselves to be madder lacquer containing aluminium 
salts. (Concerning the colours used in dyeing, see the section on Dyes, 
where further details regarding the production of colours are given so far 
as is necessary.) 


The production of yarns and textiles as above described, was probably 
that which predominated universally over a long period. Later (it is not 
known when) the textile industry advanced a further stage, when the 
milling of textiles was introduced, which was supposed to have been 
invented by a certain Nikias in Megara. The purpose of milling is to 
unite closely the comparatively loose fibres of the woven material, so 
that cloth is produced from them. The process brought about by milling 
is felting. This converts the texture into cloth. As already mentioned 
several times, the woven 
materials are sometimes beaten, 
as well as trodden on, and milled 
* by hand. 

We must regard this process 
as differing from that of wash- 
ing only in the length of time 
required, and in the energy ex- 
pended. When washing alone 
was done, one worked for only a 
short time, and with less expendi- 
ture of work ; in the case of 
milling, more power was used, 
and the process was continued 
until its aim — the production of felt — ^was achieved. The apparatus 
used for both purposes was probably fairly similar ; it consisted of 
troughs or pits situated in the vicinity of flowing water. The material 
was trodden on in the manner already described in the washing process, 
while soda was added [vIxqov, Latin niirum, which, on account of its 
resemblance to saltpetre, is often confused with it by the ancients),' — 
or else decomposed urine, or clayey substances, which easily combined 
with fat. There was even a fuller’s earth, known as ‘ Kimolian ’, 
because obtained from the island of Kimolos, one of the Cyclades in the 
Aegean Sea. Such earth was also brought to Greece and Rome from 
Samos and other places. The methods and the means were probably 
the same among most peoples of antiquity, namely, when the material had 
been sufficiently milled, it was subjected to washing and beating, which 
completed the process of felting (we here foUow Bliimner’s view). As is 
still done nowadays, the felted material then had its surface dressed, for 
which purpose thistles were used, fixed in appropriate implements with 
handles (Figs. 237 and 238). 

In the textile industry these thistles are now called fuller’s thistles or 

Mural painting from the Fullonica in Pompeii 


teazles. They were mounted in a framework and brushed up and down 
over the stretched cloths (Fig. 238) . The prickles of the hedgehog were used 

Fig. 237. — Pieces of Cloth hung up to 
dry, and the mounting or cleaning of 
the thistles to be used for dressing 
the Cloth 

Mural painting from the Fulloiiica in Pompeii 

for the same purpose, perhaps 
also metal combs, provided 
with sharp teeth, or brushes. 
The wool fibres scratched off 

Fig. 238. — Dressing the Cloth 

The man on the right is carrying a frame used for bleaching 
by means of sulphurous vapours (see page 175), and a vessel 
with a handle, in which perhaps the sulphur used was ignited. 
On top, we see what is probably a domestic pet in the shape 
of an owl, accidentally immortalized by the painter. Mural 
painting from the Fullonica in Pompeii 

in this way were carefully collected and were a favourite means for 
stuffing cushions. 


the Romans : its importance and special peculiarities made it necessary 
to adapt buildings to its purposes. In this way, factories for milling cloth 
arose, in part after the manner of our present-day factories, as regards 
their technical equipment. The milling factory (Fullonica) in Pompeii, 

(Fig. 239) in the Street of Mercury consists of four shops (i, 3, 5, 6), which, 
as was mostly the case with Roman houses (see the Section on Buildings, 
p. 321) had no communication with the house. But the shops i and 3 
have each a backroom, 2 and 4. The back rooms of 5 and 6 were on the 
first floor ; 8 is the vestibule ; 7 is a sort of porter’s room ; 10 is the ' 

atrium, in the middle of which a shed built on pillars, having a fountain ( 5 ) 
playing in front of it, was situated. On the pillar a there is the paint- 
i ing partly reproduced here. Room 14 was probably the drying room, 

' whereas 22 and 23 represent the workshop. In 22 the washed materials 

were probably dressed ; in 23 the press (see below) appears to have ; 

stood. The dyeing may have been carried out in the four troughs 26 ; 
the two outside troughs are higher than the two middle ones, which are of 
equal height and connected with each other, so that the solution flowed 
into them from the outer troughs. The troughs are of varying depths, 
the first being 46 in. deep, the last 20 in. deep. 28 is a water basin, which 
presumably served for rinsing the milled material. In room 27, which | 

was divided into six cells, which are also clearly recognizable in Fig. 236, ; 

the pieces of cloth were milled by means of treading. Room 30, in which ; 

there were found a bath and stone table as well as great quantities of 
soap (?),^ was the washing room, in which the cloth was beaten on the 
stone table by means of a wooden beater. The other rooms are private 
chambers. Among them we must mention in particular room 19, which i 

contained a bakery. I 


In spite of the thorough treatment to which the finished cloth had ^ 

been subjected, it had not yet the brilliant white colour that was desired, 
and that was prescribed among some peoples for certain garments, such 
as those of priests. In the case of white cloth, therefore, and perhaps 
! also of others that were properly dyed, a bleaching process was next 

^ applied. Bleaching on grass was unknown in ancient times ; bleaching 

I was effected by using sulphurous fumes. For this purpose, a cane frame- 

work resembling a round bird-cage or a crinoline was used, which 
was placed on the ground (Fig. 238). The cloth was spread over this i 

framework so as to cover it completely, and a pan or pot containing ; 

ignited sulphur was placed underneath. This primitive arrangement did I 

not of course allow the bleaching process to take place uniformly, and | 

darker patches must have remained in the cloth. To cover up these ; 

I patches, and to give the cloth the brilliant white appearance which was | 

’ 1 The excavation of this Fullonica, which was discovered in 1825, was carried out 

in 1826. It can therefore no longer be determined whether the substance found was 
actually soap. After what has been said about soap (see pp. no, 116), it is more 
likely that it was not. 


so much desired in antiquity, it was then nibbed with certain white 
earths, as welb as with gypsum. If bleaching was undertaken with 
materials that were genuinely dyed, probably correspondingly coloured 
earths such as ochre and such-like were used for rubbing in. An after- 
treatment then followed, which consisted in brushing, and perhaps also 

Fig. 240. — Cloth Press 
Mural Painting from the Fullonica in Pompeii 

in fleecing, in order to make the surface more uniform. Finally, the 
cloth was pressed, after having been previously moistened by sprinkling. 
A press was used, as is shown in a further mural painting of the great 
milling works of Pompeii ; in it the threads of the . two screws run, 
curiously enough, in opposite directions (Fig. 240). 


Concerning the further working of the materials into garments, there 
is not much to say. The pieces of cloth and textiles were made of the 
right size at the beginning, so that they could be worn without alteration 
later. Figs. 241 and 244 show us a number of Greek and Roman gar- 
ments, from which we easily see that the pieces made were often of con- 
siderable size, so that it required experience and skilful manipulation to 
treat them by milling, bleaching, and dyeing, if reasonably good results, 
and in particular uniformity with regard to thickness, colour and so 
forth, were to be obtained, It has already been mentioned that this 

Fig. 243. — Roman Garments 
Paying Tribute 
Provincial Museum, Treves 

Nowadays, worn-out garments are unstitched, and are used to make 
artificial wool (shoddy and mungo) ; from these the artificial cloths are 
then obtained from which cheaper clothing materials are made. No such 
process was, however, known to the ancients. But they knew a process 


uniformity could not always be achieved. To make the garments, 
various processes of sewing were necessary, as for example for making 
the facings, for sewing on the purple and other strips on the tunics of 
the dignitaries, in 

Fig. 241. — Greek Garments 
Tanagra figures 
Berlin Altes Museum, Antlquarium 

242.— Roman Garments 
Relief ; Return from a Hare Hunt 

Provincial Museum, Treves 

attaching the much-favoured trimmings, and so forth. For these pur- 
poses, as well as for darning, needles were used which were made of very 
different materials, such as ivory, bone, bronze, iron, precious metals, 
and others- As now, so at that time, thimbles and scissors were also 

r { 


for making use of rags, which they sewed together in special workshops 
to make all sorts of articles of daily use, coverings which served for 

Fig. 244. — Roman Garments 
Sepulchral Cippus, v/ith a Farewell Scene 
Provincial Museum, TrSves 

soldiers’ equipment — further, extinguishers for placing over burning 
objects, curtains for inner rooms and shops, cheap dresses, and so forth. 


The process of felting was used not only for making cloth, but also for 
its proper function of making felt. Felt was chiefly obtained from goats’ 
hair, but probably the hair of hares, camels, sheep, and so forth, was also 
used. It served as a covering for the head, also for footwear, coverings for 

FP:LTS, rope-making, wicker-work 183 

horses, and so forth. How it was actually made is not known ; nor do 
we know by what apparatus the finished felt was pressed into the 
form of head-coverings and so forth. The assertion that felt prepared 
with vinegar can resist even iron, as Pliny (VIII, 192) writes, is probably 
exaggerated. Rope-making must be regarded as a special branch of 

Fig. 245. — ^Egyptian Wicker-work of Palm Bast 

Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

textile work ; it consisted in subjecting plant fibres to a process resemb- 
ling that of spinning, and then twisting them round one another. Among 
almost all peoples of antiquity, there was used as the raw material, not 
only flax, but also hemp, and among the Romans esparto grass [Stipa 
tenacissima L), The hemp and the espartos were prepared on the whole 

Fig. 246. — Egyptian Child’s Shoe, fully woven (also the sole). Palm Bast. P'ound at 

Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

by the method already described in dealing with flaxes. By retting, 
drying, beating and so forth, the desired fibre was at last obtained. 
But these were not the only raw materials used. Rope was also made 
of straw. In Egypt, and later in Greece and Rome, reeds, rushes, willows, 
papyrus, bast (the inner bark) of the palm, were partly used for making 
ropes, nets, and so forth, but also, like cane, for weaving chairs, baskets, 
mats and hats. Moreover, ropes were sometimes made by simply twisting 
the material together, especially if it was of a coarser sort, such as straw, 

i 84 ..spinning and weaving (YARNS AND TEXTILES) 

reeds and similar materials. For the rest, rope was probably made in 
precisely the same way as nowadays — ^this was so, indeed, even among 
the Egyptians— as is confirmed by mural paintings. 

Either the finished skein of thread was taken, or it was pulled off from 
the belt during the process of rope-making, or from a sort of distaff, 

— ^Woven Cane Chair, 
Provincial Museum, Treves 

which, as we may surmise from the, mural painting just mentioned, was 
held in one hand. In the other hand, the ropemaker, who, as nowadays, 
walked backwards, carried the piece of wood (laying-top) which effected 
the twisting together, and was at any rate provided with the appropriate 
notches. A frame with a hook for attaching the ends of the ropes does 
not seem to have been known. Rather these ends seem to have been 


held by some assistant (Fig. 248), Then as now ordinary rope consisted 
of three strands, or, in the case of stronger ropes, of a number of 

Fig. 248. — Egyptian Hopemaker. Above are Coiled Rope.s 
The method of making ropes is difficult to interpret. The explanation given in the text seems the most probable one 

single ropes wound together, and thus consisted of 9, 12, 15 or more 
threads. Strong ropes contained as many as 45 threads. Bessides 
these, there are also ropes containing groups of four threads. 


D yeing is without doubt one of the most ancient technical arts, 
for even in the oldest reports (for example, the Book of Genesis 
xxxvii. 23, and Exodus xxvi. i and xxxix. i ; and in later 
times Esther i. 6), we read of coloured garments, of which some are de- 
scribed in detail. It is true that the Old Testament mentions only three 
colouring substances — purple, kermes (a scarlet dye) and madder (a red 
dye) — (see Pinner). As dyeing had necessarily to be preceded by the 
preparation of the dyes, this branch of chemistry must also have had its 
beginnings in very early times. In the most ancient Egyptian graves 
dyed fabrics have been found. The Phoenicians were famed for their 
skill in dyeing, and, in particular, gorgeously coloured materials and 
carpets W'ere made in the capital. Tyre, which were transported as highly 
desirable products of commerce to all parts of the ancient world. 
According to E. Curtius, the art of dyeing is supposed to have come into 
Greece from Phoenicia with the worship of Aphrodite. 


The dyes used in antiquity were probably at the beginning exclusively 
organic by nature, that is, derived from animals or plants. Mineral 
colouring substances, at any rate, came to be used only later. The most 
renowned of all the colouring substances of antiquity was purple, which 
was supposed to have been invented by the Phoenicians in Tyre. A 
fable relates that a dog tore to pieces a murex (sea-mussel yielding 
purple dye), and the splendid and deep crimson colour which then 
adhered to his snout caused a shepherdess to use the juice from this 
mussel for colouring her garment. The Phoenicians succeeded in hiding 
the secret of purple- dyeing for hundreds of years. Trade with purple 
fabrics brought them a considerable amount of wealth. In antiquity, 
purple stood as the symbol of wealth and distinction. In Rome, only 
the senators had the right of wearing a broad purple stripe [latus clavus) 
around the opening of their tunics. The knights had a narrower stripe, 
and in the case of the higher state and city officials, the toga pmetexta 
was edged with purple. Only the general who entered the city in 
triumph was allowed to wear a robe coloured entirely in purple and 
interwoven with gold. Later, particularly in the reign of Nero, and again 
in that of Theodosius (a.d. 379-395), laws were promulgated, by which 
only the holy person of the Emperor was allowed to carry entirely purple 
robes — a right which was afterwards transferred to the high dignitaries 
of the Church ; and we still see a survival of this privilege in the robes 


of cardinals. Although we have accurate information about the im- 
portance of purple in the history of civilization and of manners, and 
also know what high prices were paid for purple substances, which 
amounted in Rome at the time of the Emperor Augustus to £30 
for one pound of purple-coloured wool from Tyre, we did not until 
comparatively recently know what the purple dye actually looked like, 
nor how it had been produced in practice! New and very careful re- 
searches have disclosed that there were various ways of dyeing in purple, 
by means of which different shades of colour were obtained, according to 
the process adopted and the ingredients used. In general, the price of 
purple increased with the darkness of the colour. The deepest and darkest 
purple, which was made from the boiled-up juice of the mussels without 
any other ingredients, was obtained in the necessary shade of darkness 
by performing the dyeing twice (dibapha, di^acpov). It was so dark, 
that in looking at the materials dyed with it, the impression of colour 
was almost lost in the general sense of darkness of the material. This 
also explains the terms 
used by TIomer — ' purple 
night ’, ‘ purple death ’, 
and so forth. The double 
dyeing was carried out ‘ by 
dyeing the material at 
first inpelagium, that is in 
the prepared juice of the 
murex { 7 ioQ(piJQa, purpura), 
the latter being in a half 
boiled-upstate; and then 
in buccinium, that is in 
the juice of the trumpet 
murex {k'^qv^, buccinium 
murex).’ Lighter hues 
were then obtained by diluting the dyeing bath with water or 
urine, as well as by adding other red colouring substances, such as 
orchil, kermes, and so forth. In this way, colours ranging from violet 
to red were obtained, for which special terms were used (such as hyacinth- 
purple, etc.). 

Descriptions in particular by Pliny (IX, 132 ; XXI, 45) , as well as the 
evidence of broken shells found on the site of ancient purple dye-works, 
now accurately inform us about the nature of the puiple mussels. For 
purposes of dyeing, various species of these mussels were used ; they are 
classified by Pliny under the generic name ‘ purpura The precious 
substance was delivered not only by the real purple mussel [Purpura 
lapillus), but also by several species of the genus Murex. Each of these 
creatures yielded a special kind of purple. In Tyre, the juice of the 
mussel Murex brandaris was used for preference ; in Sidon, dyeing was 
carried out by means of Murex trunculus ; the second kind 'was also called 
amethyst purple. When the mussels were small, they were pounded up 
together with their shells, whereas the bigger ones were killed and cut 



up, and then the juice was extracted. After having been treated with 
salt, they were left for three days. The mass was then washed with 
water, and was cooked in a leaden vessel at a moderate temperature, 
produced by means of steam, for ten days. From 8,000 lbs. of juice, 
the ancients obtained in this way abont 500 lbs. of residue. The foam 
which formed, consisting of fibres of flesh, albumen and so forth, was 
scooped off. The clear liquid was used for making dyeing tests. If 
these were not successful, the boiling was continued, until the necessary 
concentration of the dye was obtained. Later, namely after the sixth 
century a.d., the dead mussels were allowed to lie for six months, prob- 
ably so that they should dry out. This dried mass was then taken up 
in water, and treated as above described. 

The real dyeing substance of the purple mussels is situated, according 
to the information of ancient writers, behind a small white membrane 
situated between the liver and the throat, Pliny calls this organ, which 
had already been described by Aristotle, ' vena ’ (vein), and asserts that 
the colouring matter is contained in it in an ‘ unripe form ' as a whitish 
slimy juice to the amount of one small drop. After the treatment just 
described, the dye was supposed to come out when exposed to the. air, 
and with particularly striking effect in the sun. This action of the sun 
was in early times regarded as a miracle proving the divine origin of the 
substance. The observations here stated are tolerably correct. More 
recent researches have confirmed that the slimy fluid is exuded by an organ 
in the coat of the mussel. A fermenting substance is assumed to be present, 
namely ‘ purpurase in the purple gland of the mussel, in which it is 
secreted. The slimy juice is also in contact with other substances, the pur- 
purines (madder purples) , which are different in the various purple mussels, 
whereas the purpurase is the same in all. Through the action of the 
purpurase on the purpurine, the various colours desired are produced, of 
which, for example, Murex trunculus yields two, one that is reddish violet 
and the other dark blue. The juice is still colourless when exuded. 
It then changes to yellow, later becoming green, and ultimately purplish 
red. This transformation occurs — sa we may nowadays assume — owing 
to three different kinds of influences : the first is chemical, due to the 
action of the purpurase on the purpurine ; the second is due to heat ; 
and the third is some kind of effect of light, that is, a photo- chemical 
action. The transformation occurs with the generation of a strong and 
extremely unpleasant odour, which is mentioned in the most ancient 
literature. An ancient Egyptian poem of about 1400 b.c. contains this 
passage about the purple dyer : ' His hands stink, they have the smell 
of putrid fish.’ But Plutarch says in his Pericles : ‘ We often value a 
work and despise its creator, as for example in the case of salves and 
purple : we derive pleasure from them, but we regard the dyers and the 
makers of salves as vulgar and narrow-minded fellows.’ Contempt of 
the purple-dyer is probably connected with this unpleasant odour which 
clung to them. The dye that was finally obtained is insoluble in water, 
and withstands change so effectively that this property is sufficient in 
itself to explain its great value to the ancients. 


But their value is also to be attributed to another factor. Fried- 
lander, who has made careful investigations 
of the purple dyes, obtained from 12,000 
specimens of Murex bmndaris only 1-5 
grammes of dye. In view of this fact, it is 
not surprising that, according to the calcu- 
lations of Friedlander, the price of a pound 
of purple dye in antiquity amounted to be- 
tween £2,000 and £2,500 ; and that the 
ancient purple dye-works used up immense 
quantities of purple mussels, On the coast 
of Saida, where such a dye-works was 
situated, the remains of Murex irunculus 
covered the shore to a height of several 
yards over an area 80 ft. wide and several 
hundred yards long. 

The detailed investigation of purple 
dye carried out recently by Friedlander, 
showed that it is a derivative of indigo con- 
taining bromine, being 6 :6'-dibromo-indigo, with the chemical formula: 

This body ^ has been known for some time, and was first obtained by 
R. Sachs synthetically, that is by building it up chemically from its com- 
ponent parts. Before the War, this dye could be produced synthetically 
for a price round about £1 to £i 5s. per lb. by chemical factories. But 
it would no longer occur to anyone to make this ancient purple in quantity. 
For this dye, which in the opinion of the ancients was so gorgeous, is of 
a dull shade, inclined to be reddish, and tending towards violet. It 
would give little pleasure to our eyes, and could be replaced in a much 
more splendid form, and equally genuinely, by far cheaper products of 
chemical industry, above all by various thio-indigo-derivatives. 

These latest researches concerning indigo have thus deprived us of 
an illusion. 


Other organic dyes of antiquity which were used in particular for 
colouring materials are chiefly represented by the following, which we 
know from data given by Pliny, from the Stockholm and Leyden Papyri, 
from other texts, also from analyses of ancient Egyptian and other 
textiles (th2 ancient Egyptian by Hubner, the others by Blumner, 
Hubner, Lippmann, and so forth). The chief source of red was the 
kerines tree or its berries (Pliny, IX, 141 ; XV, 8), a parasite resembling 
cochineal and living on the oak. The name kermes or alkermes first 
occurred in the Middle Ages ; in antiquity it was called the scarlet berry, 
^ Known as Tyrian purple. — H. L. B, 

Fig. 250, — The Instruments of 
a Purple Dyer 

Relief on a Roman grave. On the left, a 
stirrer for stirring the dye-brew ; variously 
formed bottles ; coloured strands of wool (?) 
(Blumner regards them as shells, but their 
shape seems to indicate strands which 
have been hung at the top over a bar, in 
the way that dyers are accustomed to do 
when washing them out). Next there is 
a pair of scales for weighing the dyed 
wool, from which strands likewise appear 
to be hanging 



‘ coccum ’ (among the Greeks, ^okkoq) . It was used for dyeing in scarlet. 
Another familiar red dye was madder (Pliny, XIX, 4 ; XXIV, 2), which 
was much used under the name ‘ rubia ' [sQvdQodavov) and, like kermes 
and orchil, was added as an ingredient to purple. A further red dye was 
anchusa, which was obtained from the root of the bugloss. It is now 
generally known under the name alkanet. It served not only for dyeing 
garments, but also as a red cosmetic (Pliny, XXII, 20). The term 
hyacinthus used by Pliny (XXI, 26), the ‘ purple flower ', is probably to 
be interpreted as a species of maUow, which was also utilized as a spurious 
purple. The bilberry [vaccinium) was used, particularly in Gaul, for 
dyeing slave dresses (Pliny, XIII, 77), probably causing them to look a 
dirty- red (blackish) . Yellow dyeing was effected in the main by means 
of saffron, and was practised from time immemorial. Bindings of 
Egyptian mummies of -the 12th Dynasty, that is about 2500 b.c., were 
dyed by means of the Egyptian safflower {Carthamus Unctorius), according 
to Htibner. Among other kinds of safflowers, the genista was also used 
in Rome (Pliny, XVI, 18). It is the yellow broom plant, which gives a 
beautiful and genuine colour. Saffrcn itself was not seldom adulterated 
with litharge (Dioscorides, Mat. Med., I, 25). Dyer’s woad {lutum) was 
reddish-yellow and was used in Roman dye-works. Amother yellow dye 
was obtained from the root of the lotus tree (Pliny, XVI, 124), The bark 
and the root of the elstree berry {Lotos medicago arhorea) were the source 
of brown dyes (Pliny, XXVI, 30) ; further, the rind and the green shell 
of the walnut was used. There was an abundant choice of blue colours. 
First we have the woad ‘ glastrum ’ or ‘ vitrum ’ {taarn;). It appears 
that it was allowed to ferment, that is, it was placed in a sort of vat. 
For Pliny (XXXV, 46) writes of two kinds of ' indicum ’, of which 
the one ' forms a purple-coloured foam, which swims on top in the dyeing 
vats, is scooped off and dried by the craftsmen’. Whether this was 
actually indigo or some other dye cannot be stated with certainty. It 
seems, however, to be established that the ancients did not know how 
to dissolve indigo, for it appears only as a colour used for painting, and 
not for dyeing materials. A further blue colour was litmus, which in its 
fresh state also served for dyeing in red, and, according to Theophrastus 
(H.Pl. I, 6, 5) was still more beautiful than purple. Litmus (orchil), 
when washed with alkaline substances, did not however retain its reddish 
colour, as this can exist only in the presence of acids. The colour became 
changed to blue. Whether conscious use was made of this fact seems 
doubtful. The Stockholm Papyrus gives a whole series of rules for 
making the rose-colour of the orchil dye and also of the alkanet dyes 
more lasting. The means recommended include the use of sheep’s hair, 
juice from the onion, a juice extracted by boiling henbane, and also from 
the leaves of lemon-trees, and so forth. Litmus {fiicus marinus) was 
used in varying degrees of quality : some kinds were more highly valued, 
some less. Those from Crete were considered especia,lly good (Pliny, 
XXXVI, 10; XXII. 6; XIII, 136). 

The most important black colour was probably made from the bark 
of the oak (Pliny, XIII, 15). 


Besides the dyes enumerated above, which were most used, there were 
a considerable number of others, less often mentioned, and therefore 
used probably only in special cases, the nature of which cannot always be 


Whereas the organic dyes, as we have already pointed out, were 
chiefly applied to colouring woven materials and cloths, the inorganic 
dyes were used for glazes and for painters’ colours. So far as they served 
as a colour for glazes, as well as for colouring glass, all that need be said 
j about them has already been stated in the section on Ceramic and Glass 

Industry. We therefore concentrate our attention here on painters’ 

' Historians of antiquity relate that the ancient painters for a long 

i time knew and used only four colours, namely — ^white, yellow, red and 

I black. This statement seems hardly credible, for, besides the various 

I organic dyes, there were also inorganic dyes present in nature ; they 

needed only to be powdered to be ready for use. We need only recall 
: that the important colours blue and green, which are missing in the scale 

just mentioned, must have been known in ancient times, in the form of 
the copper-ores, malachite, and copper glaze. All peoples of antiquity 
seem to have derived much pleasure from colours and painting. The 
Egyptians in particular, as far back as can be recorded, painted the walls 
and columns of their buildings, temples and palaces, as well as the 
mummy-cases, using seven different colours, namely : 

Black (for the hair and beard). 

( White (iron, water, mountains). 

Blue (iron, water, mountains). 

Yellow (sandstone and lime, rough wood, lions), 
t Green (crocodiles), p 

^ Cinnabar-red (the sun’s disc). i 

; Brownish-red (horses, hares, antelopes, tree trunks, iris, and the 

i tear-glands in the eyes; granite, etc.). 1 

a The colour most often used was of a brownish-red hue, which corre- 

; sponds to the so-called Pompeian red. In chemical composition it was 

' a mixture of iron oxide, obtained from the red iron deposits of Egypt, ; 

; with clay. The grain of this colour is so fine that we would almost be 

tempted to assume that it was made by precipitation from solutions. | 

But it is probable that the iron oxide was brought into this, convenient i 

form by pounding it up for a long time under water, and washing it. i 

To obtain yellow, there was used, besides gold-bronze and gold-leaf, iron | 

oxide, to which various shades of colour were given by adding varying ; 

amounts of clayey soil, lime and so forth. By heating it, brown tints : 

were obtained; and by mixing it with red, orange colours were pro- 
duced. The blue colours consisted of glass fluxes in which copper salts 
: had been dissolved. The fineness of the grain makes it appear probable 

that the glass fluxes, while still hot, were poured into cold water, and that 



the brittle mass so obtained, which was lined with innumerable cracks, 
was powdered and then washed. As this glass mass would probably 
have adhered only with difficulty to the background that was to be 
painted, possibly some gum or other binding material was used with it. 
To obtain a white colour, gypsum was used, and it was also applied to 
obtain a pale-red colour by adding an organic substance. From what 
material this organic substance was obtained can only be guessed, but it 
is to be assumed that it was madder, which the Egyptians knew how to 
extract from the madder root. It is interesting to find that the ancient 
Egyptian architects were well aware of the durable and immutable 
quality of their colours. Thus, on one of the works of Neh-Fermad 
(4000 B.c.), the builder of pyramids, there is an inscription which gives us 
information about the manner in which the colours used by him were 
produced, and it contains the words : ‘ Colour decorations for temples 
must be as eternal as the Gods themselves.' 

More richly varied than the palette of the Egyptians was that of the 
Greek painters. As early as 2000 b.c. the Greeks had in general the same 
colours as the Egyptians, and in addition, colours containing manganese 
and mercury. In the sixth century b.c. cinnabar appeared. According 
to the researches of Rhousopoulos, there was even in 2000 b.c, a rich 
variety of blues alone. A vase of that time contains a blue colouring 
matter, which was composed of copper, iron, silicon dioxide, and carbonic 
acid, and thus perhaps represents a mixture of copper silicate and iron 
carbonate. Another blue colour of the same time contains carbonic 
acid, silicon dioxide, copper, iron and mercury. A third blue of the time 
1600-1200 B.c. was composed of a basic silicate of copper oxide, in which 
there was mixed argillaceous earth to the amount of one part in four by 
weight; So that even at that time there were three different blues 
available, while further shades could be obtained by blending them 
with clay. About the ninth century b.c. there was added to these a 
further blue, namely a basic copper carbonate, which corresponds to our 
present-day mountain blue or blue verditer (powdered azurite). There 
was a similar rich variety of other colours. In the fifth century B.c. a 
black was produced from manganese and iron salts ; a violet and a green 
were also obtained by mixture, the latter being produced from iron and 
copper salts and argillaceous earth ; and there are many further examples. 

Among the Romans, the manifold variety of colours reached its 
zenith. For every colour, almost, there are various representatives. 
There was a considerable number of whites ; first of all, the chalk from 
Selinus in Sicily, which was particularly highly valued ; it was wa.shed 
and then stirred in milk. It also served as a cosmetic. Further, melinum, 
a white earth from the island of Melos, was used, although it was not 
suitable for wall painting. Another popular earth was obtained from 
Eretria on the south-west coast of Euboea. According to its chemical 
composition, it was a chalk which is supposed to have been used par- 
ticularly over other colours. Praetonium, a chalky substance derived 
from Egypt, was rather dear, and was therefore very often adulterated. 
To these, there is to be added white lead, which was the only white colour 


of the Romans that did not occur naturally, being obtained artificially. 
It was known as early as the fourth century b.c., when Theophrastus, 
in his essay negl AtScov, described its preparation, which is also given by 
Dioscorides, Pliny and Vitruvius. From these descriptions, it is evident 
that the tpifivOiov, cerussa, was made in the following way : lead was 
placed on a vessel filled with strong vinegar, and both were wrapped up 
as tightly as possible, so that the vapours from the vinegar should attack 
the lead. White lead was produced, which was scratched off, ground 
up and passed through a sieve. The poisonous character of white lead 
was known as early as the 2nd century b.c., when Nicander mentions it 
in his Alexipharmaca (verses 74-76). As a yeUow colour, ochre was 
chiefly used ; it was dug up, and applied in all shades, ranging from 
yellow through brown to red. The yellow ochre which was obtained in 
the vicinity of Athens was regarded as the best. Before ochre deposits 
were discovered in Italy, Athenian ochre was so dear that it was often 
adulterated, or cheap substitutes were used for it. According to the 
report of Vitruvius, these substitutes were made by ancient wall-painters, 
by boiling out dried yellow flowers in water. The yellow fluid obtained 
was then mixed with chalk. In this way a colour was produced which 
resembled in its shade Athenian cchre but resisted exposure to light 
considerably less, which is not very surprising, since organic colouring 
substances in general have less resistive power to light than mineral 
substances. Besides ochre, there was used as a yellow colour orpiment, 
that is arsenic trisulphide, having the chemical formula As 283. 

There was a great choice of reds in very many different shades. First 
of all, red ochre was available naturally. Among the various sorts, 

‘ Sinopian ' earth was particularly favoured ; it was probably brought 
from the town of Sinope by traders, and was a red chalk obtained from the 
mines of Cappadocia. No less famous was the red chalk from the islands 
of Lemnos and Keos, from which the city of Athens had secured the 
contract rights of extracting the substance. Moreover, Athens had 
special ships built for its transport. It was also known that -yellow 
ochre, when subjected to heat, passes over into the red form ; this 
is a process of oxidation which is still used in factories maldng mineral 
dyes. It is supposed to have been invented by the painter Kydias, 
about the year 350 B.c. Further, powdered bricks were used as 
painters’ colours, which also became converted into a brighter red 
when heated. Later, however, when better colours were obtainable, 
they were only used for lime-washing. Like cchre, the arsenic com- 
pounds with sulphur gave various tints between yellow and red, par- 
ticularly when the red realgar (disulphide of arsenic, red orpiment) was 
mixed with the yellow orpiment ; these two substances almost always 
occur together in nature. Of course the extraction as well as the use 
of these colours was associated with great dangers to health. No less 
harmful were the production and use of minium, which was made by 
heating wliite lead. This red colour (PbaO*) was supposed to have 
been discovered owing to a vessel containing white lead having fallen 
into the flames when a decorator’s workshop had caught fire, with the 
T.A.S. — 13 



consequence that the white colour was changed into red. To these 
numerous red colours there then became added the cinnabar extracted 

from Spanish mines, which is early mentioned by Theophrastus about 
300 B.c. {tcsqI ?Jda)v, 59). Besides being imported from Spain, it was 
also obtained from Cappadocia (Strabo, III, 144). The use of cinna- 
bar (mercuric sulphide, HgS) was also very dangerous to health. The 
discovery by the Athenian Kallias (about 405 b.c.) of an 'artificial 
cinnabar ’ made from red sand, which came from Ephesus, while 
being a retrograde step as regards beauty of colour, certainly marks 
an advance in hygienic respects. Artificial cinnabar is supposed to have 
been made from the sand which occurs, as just mentioned, near Ephesus, 
by dividing it up finely, washing it in water, and then again letting it 
precipitate. The deposit was then dried and used as a colour. 

As a blue colour, there was used above all ‘ Egyptian blue ’, which 
was made by heating a mixture of copper-ore, sand, lime and soda. 
A. P. Laurie has recently endeavoured to produce this colour from its 
component parts, and has succeeded in his efforts. According to the 
investigations made by him, Egyptian blue was a crystalline substance, 
which has the property of double refraction. Fouque obtained it by 
glowing a mixture of 24-4 parts of copper oxide, 50 parts of quartz, 21 
parts of chalk, and 4-6 parts of soda. According to his researches, the 
quartz had to be used in the finest state of division, as success depended 
on this point, and indeed the finely divided state of all components was 
a necessary factor in the process. Th^g^wfpUltTL'Ql u LiKwliich he glowed 
these substances ai ^unt^ 

Besides this artifldETmu^mere was also a natural blue colour avail- 
able, which the Greeks called kyanos and the Romans cdemleum. It 
was found in Egypt and Cyprus, and was probably lapis-lazuli, from 
which a blue colour was obtained by powdering and washing — ^which 
probably corresponded to our washing-blue — that is, to ; ultramarine. 
The price of a pound was as much as £45. A fraudulent substitute was 
obtained by using white chalk, which was coloured by a decoction of 
woad. Besides these, indigo was used as a colour by painters, as has 
already been remarked under the section on Organic Dyes. 

The most important green colour was malachite (chrysocolla), which 
was extracted from numerous deposits, above all in Macedonia, Armenia 

and Cyprus. There were further used the green earth obtained from 
Smyrna, and also verdigris. It was made by leaving copper in wine 
lees until a green layer had formed, which was then scratched off. 
Since in this way only comparatively little verdigris could be obtained, 
the colour was rather dear, so that it was often adulterated by add- 
ing marble dust or iron sulphate. A method of detecting the fraud 
was also known ; it consisted, in glowing out the suspected colour, 
whereupon the resultant change of colour of course showed clearly 
whether or not a pure copper compound was present. A green dis- 
covered in Crete consisted of Egyptian blue mixed with ochre. The 
Romans used green earth. 

For making black, soot was the chief source. It was produced, as 


nowadays, in special works. Pitch, resin, chips from the pine, beeswax, 
dried remains of the grape and other substances, were burned in cham- 
bers whose walls were as smooth as possible and in many cases made of 
polished marble. The soot which deposited itself was scratched off. 
Further, bone black was also in use; it is supposed to have been dis- 
covered by the most celebrated painter in Greece, namely Apelles (about 
325 B.C.), who produced it by charring ivory. Bone black was extra- 
ordinarily dear, and was only seldom employed. On the other hand, 
wood tar was sometimes used, as well as a black derived from India, 
which is probably identical with our Indian ink, and so likewise repre- 
sented a product from soot. 

Gold dye was also used in antiquity, namely in the form of finely- 
divided gold-leaf, that is as that kind of metal colour to which we 
nowadays apply the collective name ‘ bronze dyes ’. The word bronze 
applies not to the chemical composition, but rather to the physical 
constitution of the material. Theobald surmises that at first the scraps 
from the workshop of the gold-beater, that is fine strips of gold, were used 
for producing this dye, by rubbing it up into a powder, and applying it 
as a paint. From excavations in Mycenae, Hostman concludes that gold 
bronze must have been in use very long ago. In Egypt, however, it 
appears to have been applied rather late. To make the bronze powder 
and the gold bronze adhere to a surface, cements were used ; above all, 
probably gummy or resinous juices of plants, and also mercury. Only 
small traces of mercury can however have been used, as the addition of 
a larger quantity would have resulted in an amalgam, white in colour. 
The mercury gradually vaporized from the alloy, while the gold bronze 
clung by adhesion, or was perhaps attached by a residual trace of the 
amalgam, which did not decompose. 

It has yet to be mentioned that among the ancient writers definite 
and characteristic expressions for the individual dyes are not always to 
be found. The ancients revelled in speaking in extravagant terms of the 
beauty of these dyes ; thus we read of the ‘ green of the myrtle ’, ' the 
colour of the acorn ‘ the blue of the heavens ’, and similar picturesque 
expressions.^ So it is very often difficult to establish which colour is 
meant in a given passage. 

^ Sxich terms, which can easily be paralleled from other languages, especially 
those of savages, result from a restricted vocabulary of colour-names, not from 
rhetorical tendencies. — Trans. 



T he technique of painting in antiquity probably reached its 
zenith at first among the Egyptians and then among the 
Babylonians. The resistance of these paintings, as well as the 
dyeing of garments, to decay, which has been much praised, is due less 
to the perfect method of painting than to other favourable circum- 
stances, above all, to the dry air which — ^in contrast with that of our 
cities — contained no harmful gases, and in particular no sulphurous 
fumes. Further, the complete exclusion of air, as for example in the 
Royal tombs, was favourable for the preservation of antique paintings. 
Their durability is, as Heaton, Immerheisser, Lessing, and others have 
rightly pointed out, only relative. The production of Egyptian wall 
paintings was carried out by first smoothing the surface of the rough 
stone wall by means of a layer of slime or loam. On this base there was 
superimposed a second layer of straw and asphalt. Then the actual 
background for the painting was added, but only in a very small thick- 
ness — of about of an inch— which consisted of chalk, and sometimes 

bolus. Later, in the time of the Ptolemies (in the third century b.c.), gild- 
ing also appeared, particularly on the wrappings of mummies. The water 
or tempera colours applied to this background were then fixed by means 
of gum or glue. The real nature of the means used in painting has not 
yet been determined. It is only known that water-colours were in- 
volved. When these paintings are made wet, they can be washed out 
together with the background. The brushes were made of reeds, of 
which one end was split up into fine pieces by knocking it against a 
surface, also perhaps by chewing it. Later, however, brushes made of 
hair were also used. The palettes (Fig. 251) were of wood, and were 
provided with hollows for containing the colours. Besides this method 
of wall painting, there was also another practised by the Egyptians, 
which was even more common. The pictures and inscriptions were 
cut or engraved in the stone, and the incisions giving the outlines of the 
drawings were filled with a colour paste. The two methods of decorative 
painting just mentioned remained predominant until the time of the 
Ptolemies. They had continued in use for nearly three thousand years. 


In the meantime, there developed in the Mediterranean countries, 
particularly in Greece, a new method of painting, the beginnings of which 


go back to the time of King Minos, as is borne out by the fresco paint- 
ings in the palace of Knossos, The fact that the art of fresco appears to originated in Crete, whereas it was possibly unknown in Egypt, is 
probably due to the circumstance that 

in Crete simple distemper pictures of r ^ 

the Egyptian kind could hardly have f 
outlasted the colder and moister climate. £1'” 

It was therefore necessary to find a !|’j[ | | 

new method of painting which would g | 

give enduring productions. The o 

analyses of the materials used for vtnl: ‘ I 

Cretan fresco paintings showed that . .jij i i 'ii irii fTi i -S P 

the lime was derived from a subter- 1![8' -iB| 1 g- 

ranean quarry situated some miles from K ' S I ^ 

the palace of Knossos. To obtain the , ^ 1 li §, I 

-Greek Painter 

different colours, lime was used for f J If L - I ” 

white, ochre for yellow, and burnt Mall.y' | « i 

yellow ochre or ground haematite for , ^ 

red. Black was made from slate con- 4 ^ 

taining coal. Blue was the Egyptian ' ^ 

blue dready mentioned above, there- ^ I 

fore a silicate of copper and sodium. v | ' „ 

A uniformly constituted green was 

not used ; this colour was always f 1 I 

mixed from Egyptian blue and cchre. ■ 

The lime of the earlier frescoes is not ^ jUf . ^ | 

so white and is coarser than that of ,iif £ o 
later periods. Moreover, it contains a . ' 

considerable quantity of aluminium 
silicate in the fonn of zeolite. This 

mineral was probably added in order to help the hardening process, 
which strangely enough is not completed even at the present day. The 
hardening of frescoes, as we know, is due to the lime (calcium hydrate. 

Ga(OH) 2), taking up carbon dioxide fronnithe air, and becoming converted 
into ordinary lime (calcium carbonate, CaCOg). Even nowadays, several 
thousand years after the production of these frescoes, we still find at the 

deepest points of the 
frescoes in Knossos traces 
of unchanged calcium 

The Roman fresco 
paintings were made in a 
way similar to that of the 
Greeks, The method was 
improved in various direc- 
tions. In particular, Vit- 
ruvius (VII, 3) describes 
the preparation of stucco 
[tectorium] , in a passage 
which, in spite of all 
attempts at explanation 
by AVeigmann, Donner, 
B 1 u m n e r , Raehlmann , 
Keim, Berger, and others, 
does not seem sufficiently 
elucidated in some re- 
spects. From the technical 
point of view, the explana- 
tion given by Berger, and 
supported by experiments, 
has much to recommend 
it ; according to it, a 
shining smoothed stucco 
surface was at first pro- 
duced, being either 
coloured or white, on 
which a painting could be 
made, according to the 
adopted (tempera, stucco, and so forth). It must be especially 
mentioned that one of the green colours used by the Romans, malachite, 
lost some of its beautiful quality on the lime. Wherever it was to be 
applied, therefore, a thin coat of black was first painted on the white 
ground, over which the green could then be applied. 


The ancients painted not only on walls but, later, also on tablets. 
They used tablets made of wood from the cypress, larch or pine. Canvas 
was hardly used at all as a painting material, although there are isolated 
examples of such portraits (those found by Flinders Petrie in Hawara in 
the Fayum); The dried wood was covered with a coat of white, and 



then painted. The ancients also painted on stone tablets, in par- 
ticular on tablets of polished marble. Such paintings were used in 
Greece at a very distant date on monuments. It was not usual to var- 
nish the paintings, although it is reported of Apelles that he covered his 
beautiful creations with a protective layer, whose composition he kept 
secret. As all the colours were water-colours, the paintings had to be 
preserved from decomposition, and this was effected by providing them 
with folding doors. But the Egjrptians are also supposed to have used 
glass for this purpose. Oil-painting was unknown throughout the 
whole of ancient times. 


The number of binding substances, that is of those substances by 
means of which the colours were mixed and made to adhere to the ground, 
was comparatively large. But if we look carefully into their chemical 
composition, we find that they are nearly always substances of the class 
of carbohydrates or albumens, or of a mixture of both. At any rate, no 
substances from the class of oils and fats were used, so that it was a 
question simply of tempera painting in the original sense — that is, painting 
that was entirely free of ‘ fatty substances Fischer enumerates the 
following .binding substances : 

' I . Gum arabic and tragacanth. 

2. Animal glue ; that from Rhodes was particularly valued. 

3. Blood of the hippopotamus. 

4. Egg, and white of the egg. 

5. Milk for smearing over the tectorium (wall surface) with earth from Selinus. 
The tectorium in the Temple of Athena at Elis was painted on with milk and saffron. 
Later, the milky juice of figs was also used. It was mixed with the yellow of the 
egg and added to the colours.’ 


Besides water-colours and the tempera painting carried out with the 
use of egg, gum or glue, the ancients were also acquainted with a special 
form of painting, ‘ encaustic painting’, about which Pliny writes (XXXV, 
122) ; ' We do not know who first conceived the idea of painting with 
wax colours and burning them into the picture’ ; ibid., 149: ‘There 
were only two methods of making encaustic paintings in ancient times, 
with wax and on ivory. It was done with the cestrum (a stump), that 
is a tool resembling a spit [vericulum) , When people began to apply paint 
to ships a third method arose, consisting in making the wax colours 
fluid by means of fire, and using brushes ; what was painted on ships 
was thus not damaged either by the sun, salt water, or winds.’ 

Ever since the sixteenth century, this passage has been the subject of 
lively discussion as to the method of encaustic painting. The explana- 
tions which are chiefly based on philological reasoning began in the year 
1585 through Louis de Montjosieu, and have continued right up to the 


present day. A comparison of texts undertaken by Mayboff brought 
out the important fact that the three methods of encaustic painting 

mentioned by Pliny {qui 

^ encausto cauteriovel cestro 

/ vel penicillo pinxerit) are 

J the following : 

/ . (i) Cauterium-encaus- 

^ / tic, that is placing on the 

r / colours and working them 

^ Ji ^ in with a hot instrument. 


^ I pointed stump on ivory 

^ ^^2) Brush- encaustic — 

adding the hot fluid 
Fig. 254.— Tools used for Encaustic Painting, obtained colours bv mpanc: nf o 

from the grave of a woman painter. COiOUrs oy means 01 a 

Below, from left to right ; glass jug, knife with a cedar handle, bronze orUSH. 

box with colours in four sections, which are covered with a perforated A diffimlt V Wflc: at fhiit 

silver plate ; below is a basalt tablet, a bronze spoon, a niiortar ; in . uiiiiouicy WcLts d,L Liidt 
front is a shovel made of rock crystal time enCOUntered, in that 

no encaustic paintings 
were discovered, so that it was even believed that encaustic painting 
had never actually existed. Not even eminent chemists like Chaptal 

(1809) and Davy (1815) 

succeeded in proving the ^ 

Fig. 254. — Tools used for Encaustic Painting, obtained 
from the grave of a woman painter. 

Below, from left to right ; glass jug, knife with a cedar handle, bronze 
box with colours in four sections, which are covered with a perforated 
silver plate ; below is a basalt tablet, a bronze spoon, a mortar ; in 
front is a shovel made of rock crystal 

succeeded in proving the ^aT'^JT ! 

presence of wax or mix- 

tures of resins in ancient \ •, w ’ ' ! 

wall frescoes. At last, y . \ ^ j 

however, at the end of ■ V 

the nineteenth century, n\ P A 

encaustic paintings were ' \ 

discovered on the ancient ‘ 

Eg5^tian tombs at Ruba- 

yatintheFayum.ofwhich, ‘t/ ^ 

according to the opinion 

of Ebers, the oldest dated • ? I'M , . ^ 

back to about the second ' 

p „„ J Fig. 255-— -Instruments used for Encaustic Painting, 

centui y B. C. , ana tne most the grave of a painter (woman) . 

recent ones to the fourth From left to right : a grate made of crystal, bronze spoon, large mor- 

century of the Christian ^ of bronze spoons 

era. Chemical analysis 

showed that wax was present in them. As a Roman painter's grave 
had previously been discovered at St. M^dard des Pres, in which a com- 
plete outfit was found, these two discoveries have made the ancient 
method of encaustic painting clear to us 

In the grave of the painter there were found — ^in a small box with iron 
mountings (Figs. 254 and 255) : (i) A bronze box with a sliding cover (in 
which were contained colours of an irregular shape) ; (2) a basalt tablet ; 



(3) a mortar made of bronze ; (4) two delicately worked little spoons of 
bronze in a case of the same metal; (5) the handles of two brushes. 
There were also found in the grave amphorae, which were partly Med 
with beeswax, partly with a mixture of resin and wax ; also, clasp- 
knives, colour grates, and an alabaster mortar with a spout, and other 

The presence of wax, which was investigated by Chevreul, the 
eminent expert in the industrial chemistry of oils and fats, made it seem 
probable that this outfit was that of an encaustic painter ; this possi- 
bility becomes a certainty, when we compare the above with the data of 
Pliny and with the manner in which the Egyptian encaustic paintings 
were carried out. The little box with the perforated silver cover served 
to contain glowing coals. The heat that escaped through the apertures 
softened the wax colours placed above. The two long-handled spoons 
with the thickened ends, which could be warmed alternately, were used 
to distribute and smooth out the wax smeared on the surface of the 
painting and to work it in. Experiments made by the artist Ernst 
Berger with models of these implements made for the Deutsches Museum, 
Munich, showed that it was possible to make an encaustic painting 
in the antique style. According to the researches of Berger, the spoon- 
shaped end of the instrument — ^which seems to be the cautenum — 
served for the first application of the wax, which was caught up in the 
fluid condition, being hot, and was spread immediately over the surface 
(the first method of Pliny) ; the final touches were carried out with the 
other warmed end of the cauterium. Or else, at the beginning, the third 
method of Pliny was practised by means of the brush and hot fluid colour, 
and the process was completed with the cauterium. 

The ancient Egyptian encaustic paintings also allow us to distin- 
guish two processes : in the one, an instrument differing from the brush 
was exclusively used, the traces of which are clearly visible ; whereas in 
the other this instrument was used only for delineating the parts of the 
face : the background, however, as well as the garments, jewellery and 
so forth, were made with the brush, and that mostly quite superficially 
with softened wax colours. Encaustic painting later gave rise to oil- 
painting. Resin was mixed with the wax mass, and, later, oils, probably 
in order to retain it fluid for a longer time. In this way, there originated 
an oil-resin method of painting, and finally painting with pure oils, 
which the Greek doctor Aetius mentions for the first time in the sixth 
century a.d. with the words, ' The oil of the walnut is useful to the 
encaustic painters, on account of its drying power.’ 



M any of the technical achievements of antiquity excite the 
greatest admiration in us on account of their massiveness, of the 
colossal conceptions embodied in them, and of the splendid 
manner in which they have been executed. This admiration is still further 
increased when we realize that all these achievements were accomplished 
with comparatively simple machines, with contrivances which through- 
out result from exploiting a few easily recognizable physical laws. 
‘Work’ is the product of ‘time’' by ‘power.’ We can understand how 
these achievements were possible in spite of the simple machines used, 
if we bear in mind that there was an abundance of both time and power 
available at that period. Time was of practically no account ; in order 
to produce a definite piece of work, any amount of time could be used. 
There was likewise no lack of power : the existence of slavery provided 
more than enough labour, and it could be used to the fullest extent. 
In view of this profusion of power and time, machines could well be 
of a simple kind. 


Aristotle (384-322 B.c.) enumerates in his Mechanical Problems ^ the 
contrivances used by the ancients. Among these he includes the lever 
with its counter-weight in the case of the draw well, the ordinary balance 
with equal arms, the steel-yard, the tongs, the wedge, the axe, the 
winch, the roller, the wheel, the pulley, the compound pulley, the potter’s 
lathe, the sling, the oar, as well as the cord-wheel of iron or bronze capable 
of rotating in different directions, which must probably be interpreted 
as toothed wheels (see page 215). If we consider this enumeration, as 
well as the definition which Vitruvius (ist century b.c.) gives us of the 
' machine ’ ; ‘A machine is a connected construction of wood, which 
gives very great advantages in raising heavy masses ; it is set into action 
artificially, namely by rotation’, then we recognize at once that the 
ancients were chiefly concerned with making use of the simple devices 
which in mechanics are usually classified under the generic term ‘ simple 
machines Their name is due to the fact that they cannot be analysed 
into still simpler machines ; they are the lever, the inclined plane, 
the wedge, the pulley and the toothed wheel. By combining these, we 
get compound machines. Let us now see in what way the ancients 
derived advantage from the ‘ simple machines ’ and combinations of them. 
1 A work probably not by Aristotle. — Trans. 




It has been assumed by many, among them Wichelhaus, that the 
Egyptians were acquainted only with the lever, the wedge, and the 
compound pulley. This view is supported by the circumstance that it 
seems doubtful whether the inclined plane was used in building the 
Pyramids, as has been assumed by some investigators. If, for the 
present, we therefore disregard the toothed wheel, to which we shall 
return later, and examine in detail the technical achievements of ancient 
peoples, as well as how they were attained, we find, as the elementary 
mechanical appliances of the ancients, the lever, the inclined plane, the 
wedge, and the pulley. 


Of these appliances, the lever offered itself naturally; it was fairly 
certainly used by all peoples of pre-history. The assertion of Pliny 
(VII, 195) that it was invented by Kinyras of Cyprus can therefore be 
regarded only as a contribution to mythology, and of no value for the 
history of technical mechanics. The theory of the lever exercised the 
greatest minds of antiquity, above all Aristotle ^ and Archimedes 
(287-212 B.C.), of whom the former regards the action of the lever in the 
light of related circular arcs, whereas Archimedes discovered the law of 

levers by calculation. 
This law states that the 
product of the fqrce by 
the arm must have the 
same value on both sides 
of the fulcrum, if equili- 
brium is to be main- 
tained. Thus, in order 
to raise a weight that is 
a thousand times heavier 
than can be lifted with 
the strength of our arms, 
it suffices to make the 
lever-arm at the end of which the force is being applied a thousand 
times longer than the lever- arm supporting the w^eight. ' Give me a 
fixed point in space, and I will move the earth ! ’ was the proud boast 
of Archimedes. Whether the knowledge discovered by him influenced 
the mechanical development of later times must remain an open ques- 
tion. At any rate, the method of using the lever, both alone and in com- 
bination with other devices, was known long before. We meet it among 
the ancient Egyptians in the form of numerous tools, and comparisons with 
the achievements of other peoples show us that the latter also knew how 
to make appropriate use of it. Thus we find manifold devices for raising 
water, which depend on the action of the lever, .such as the ‘ shadoof ' 
among the Egyptians, the Babylonians and Assyrians, and the ' picotah ' 
among the Indians. As we may recognize, for example, from the reliefs 
at the Palace of Nineveh, which date from the seventh century b.c., 
^ Meaning the unknown author of the Mechtmical Problems ; seep. 202, n. — Trams, 

Fig. 256. — Shadoof in Babylon. The two-armed lever 
used for drawing water 

ing vessel (Fig. 256). The workmen 
apply their strength to the longer 
lever arm. In opposition to this, 
3 B.G.) describes a device resembling 
the shadoof for drawing 
^ water, in which there is 
attached to the rear shorter 
arm a treadle contrivance. 
The bucket is then raised 
by the workman walking 
up this treadle (a simple 
board— see Fig. 259). 

The old ‘ picotah ' or 
‘ kuphar ' of the Indians 
worked in the same way; 
In it, the shorter arm car- 
ries a few steps, on which 
the workers walk up or 
down, and so cause a bucket to be raised or lowered (Fig. 258). 

In view of the active trade relations which the ancient Egyptians 
maintained with all sorts of countries, the scale-balance (Figs. 260-263) 

Fig. 259. — A contrivance for drawing water, in which 
two Levers are used in combination: the Treadle 
Lever works the Drawing I,ever 
According to Philon of Byzantium 


could be dispensed with neither in these countries nor in Egypt itself. 
Numerous ancient pictures give us information about its structure, which 

resembles that of the ordinary balance of the present day. (See also 
Figs. 48 and 49.) 

Fig. 261. — Steelyardl. Another form 

The weight {in the fonii of a lion’s head) and the mass are both fixed. Equilibrium is obtained by shifting along the 
whole yard and so varying the position, of tlie point of feuspehSion. The weight is then read off at the point of sus- 
pension of the fine division on the hegrfi. . Berlin, Alfes Museum, Antiquarium 

An in.genious use of the lever, pesrhaps derived from the law of Archi- 
medes/'was made byPIeron of Alexandria (first century a.d.). He con- 








structed numerous automatic machines, which for the most part depended 
on the use of the lever. A typical example is given by his automaton 
for supplying holy water (Fig. 264), which he describes as follows 
[PneumaUca 1, 2 . 1 , p. 110, Schmi&t) : 

‘ Many vessels for offerings are arranged so that holy water for sprinkling flows 
ont when a five-drachma piece is inserted. 

‘ Take a libation- vessel (anovSetov) or a money- 
box (dijcfavpog), {a^yd, Fig. 264), of which the 
aperture a is not closed. 

' Let there be in the money-box (or the 
libation-vessel) a (small) vessel with water 

and a box -from which an exit-tube ^ leads 
outwards. Next to the vessel place a vertical rod 
v^, about which another on rotates like a scale- 
beam. Let on be widened at 0 into a thin plate 
which (in the state of rest) lies parallel to the bottom 
of the vessel. At n attach a small vertical rod, 
na, to which there is attached at cr a lid exactly 
fitting the cylinder, so that it can interrupt the 
escape of liquid through /j,. Make the lid of the 
cylinder heavier than the little plate q but lighter 
than the combined weight of the lid and the coin. 
When the coin has been inserted into the aperture 
a, it drops into the plate q and so, depressing the 
cross-beam on, brings it into an inclined position 
while drawing up the lid of the cylinder ; as a 
consequence of this the water is allowed to flow out. So soon as the coin has 
dropped (from q) the lid again closes the box and arrests the flow of the water.' 

More important than 
these and many other 
automatic devices of 
Heron, who was ex- 

Fig. 262. — Steel Jack; in use 

Fig. 263, — A Balance consisting of a Lever witli 
equal Arms 

Greek pictures on the ‘ phiale of Arkesllas ' 

Fig. 264. — ^The Automatic De- 
vice for supplying Holy Water, 
invented by Hercaiof Alexandria 

tremely clever in making such inventions, were the manifold technical 
applications which were made of the lever, particularly in Roman 



times. Among these we must mention the cord-wheel, which was 
used for turning the grindstone, and probably also the lathe. Further, 
numerous and often very comphcated lever appliances were used in 
the theatre in order to raise or lower planks and so forth, of which 
isolated beams, as well as panels let into the walls of Roman 
theatres, also give evidence. Lastly, very important war machines, 
dependent on the use of the lever, are supposed, according to Diodorus 
(first century B.C.), to have been invented by Pericles (492-429 b.c.), 
who had them made by a mechanic, Artemon, for besieging Samos 
(439 B.C.). We shall discuss these machines in greater detail later. 


The inclined plane was also recognized in antiquity as a convenient 
means of raising heavy loads. Whether it played a part, as is thought 
by many, in the construction of the Pyramids (about 2800 b.c.) is doubt- 
ful. According to Herodotus (II, 125), the Pyramids were built in the 
following way with the help of lifting machines, whose exact nature he 
does not describe, 

' This Pyramid was made like a stairway with tiers, courses or steps. When 
this, its first form, was completed, the workmen used levers made of short wooden 
logs to raise the rest of the stones. They heaved up the blocks from the ground 
on to the first tier of steps ; when the stone had been so raised it was set on another 
lever that stood on the first tier, and a lever again drew it up from this tier to the 
next. It may be that there was a new lever on each tier of the steps, or perhaps 
there was but one lever, and that easily lifted, which they carried up to each tier 
in turn. I leave this uncertain, both ways being told me. But this is certain, 
that the upper part of the pyramid was the first finished off, then the next below it, 
and last of all the base and the lowest part.' (Transl. by A. D. Godley.) 

If we disregard the last sentence, which Lepsius interprets as meaning 
that ‘ the uppermost step of the Pyramid was completed first, before 
the one lying below was finished, the pro- 
cess of filling in each step was carried out 
from below upwards ', then the remarks of 
Herodotus tell us only of the use of elevating 
machines of an unknown kind in the building 
of the Pyramids. But it does not seem 
improbable that ramps, in the form of in- 
clined planes, were present, which served to bring the stones up to 
these elevating machines, if we consider the method by which the 
Egyptians and the Assyrians, and probably also other peoples of the 
East, transported their heavy burdens, which they always placed on 
runner-shaped supports (sledges). Such a support can easily be pulled up 
an inclined plane. It cannot however be imagined that this inclined 
plane, as Diodorus writes, reached to the top of the Pyramid ; it prob- 
ably served only for bringing building materi^s to the elevating machines 
thaisr^eat he erected. An extensive literature has gathered round the 
usei as the cHis ed plane in the building of the Pyramids, from which we 
wishr, large stoh only that Hirt does not consider the use of the inclined 
^iirffrneath loads k. 

Fig. 265. — The Construction of 
Archimedes’ Screw, according to 
the description of Vitruvius(X,6) 



plane as probable, whereas Erman refuses to allow that a complicated 
mechanism was involved at all, and asserts that 'these marvels were 
achieved by only one power — ^by innumerable human hands, which 
were ruthlessly exploited’. 

The inclined plane acquired particular importance by being used in 
the form of the screw, which is supposed to have been invented by Archi- 
medes while travelling in 
Egypt. But it is to be 
assumed that it had long 
been in use in that 
country, namely for 
pump-work in mines 
(‘ Egyptian or Archi- 

FiGs. 266 and 267.- 

Endless Screws ’ 

medes ’ screw). The method of making it is described in detail by 
Vitruvius (X, 6). From this description, we see that the screw or worm 
was made of wood, and served at first exclusively for drawing water. It 
was in the shape of a long worm k, k, k (Fig. 265), whose grooves were 
enclosed in an envelope m, bound by hoops and covered with tar. The 
lower part of the worm, which ran obliquely and was fixed in scaffolding 
and driven by means of a treadle, dipped into water ; by continual turn- • 
ing, the liquid was raised. Later, the screw was used for the single-screw 
olive-presses (Pliny, XVIII, 317), and in the double-screw cloth-presses 
(see the Section on Yarns and Textiles) and so forth. In other mechanical 
constructions, it was also used in the form of the ‘ endless screw ' (Figs. 
266, 267) ; in fibulae we find little screws of gold ; iron screws do not 
seem to have been used by the ancients, as they have never been found. 


The pulley was even used by the Ass5n:ians, and probably also by the 
Egyptians. Heron of Alexandria (? first century a.d.) used a combination 
of several pulleys of unequal size, for altering the rate of movement of 
dancing figures ; that is, he used the device which we call 

‘gearing’ (Fig. 269). From it there was then derived^ used 

compound pulley (tackle of pulleys) which was particul;?nfold technil by 
the Romans (Fig. 270). It may be surmised that it y^rly in ' Ro?|mHo^ 


the Egyptians; at any rate Arnondeau assumes that it was used for 
raising obelisks; this is in agreement with Krusemann, who holds the 
opinion that these immense stones were raised with the help of a tackle 
of pulleys, which was fixed at the top of a pylon, and the rope from 
which was wound round the point of an obelisk that had been lowered 
f)n to a sand-heap from a slope. If Krusemann’s view is correct, the raising 
of the obelisk on to this slope would again imply the use of an inclined 
plane by the Egyptians. In Roman times, the compound pulley was 
often used for oil presses, for theatrical machines, in the tackling of 
ships, and so forth ; indeed it was even used in the Imperial Roman 
palaces for lifts and cranes. In the so-called ‘hall of machines' 
excavated on the Palatine at a depth of 66 ft., niches were found in 
which the lifts worked, and also the tubes and grooves through which the 

pulleys passed. According to the number of pulleys used in the com- 
pound pulley, Vitruvius (X, 2) distinguishes between elevating machines, 
‘ tackle of pulleys which work with three pulleys, that is trispastos, 
and those with five pulleys, pentaspastos. For heavy loads, th^polyspastos 
was used. The last offers the advantage of having to be fastened to 
only a single tree, as it works easily and quickly on account of its many 
pulleys. It was therefore used as a crane ; ‘ the circumstance, however, 
that only one tree is present has the advantage that before the load is 
set down, the machine may be inclined at will, either to the right 
or to the left side' (Vitruvius, X, 2, 10). 

In this process, the lifting machine is placed now upright and now 
horizontal on crane-discs (Vitruvius, loc. cit). It also served for 
beaching ships. 

A special variety of the pulley is the windlass, which is set into motion 
by lever action, and which was also a much-used machine ; wire ropes 
were used with it, as perhaps also with the pulley, even in Roman times. 
In Pompeii such a rope made of bronze wire has been discovered. 

All ancient peoples w^ere expert in the use of the wedge. It served 
for a great number of purposes, at first in the form of numerous tools, 
such as the chisel, the hatchet, axe, and so forth, since primeval times. 
Later, large stones were split by means of it, and wedges were placed 
underneath loads in order to transport them more easily and to raise them. 

T.A.S. — 14 



It was early understood how to convert sliding friction into rolling 
friction. As already mentioned, the Egyptians used to transport huge 
masses on a kind of sledge-runner. Whether round logs were placed 
underneath to reduce the friction may be left an open question. It is 
likewise doubtful whether we must regard as round the logs which appear 
under such sledges in the pictures of the Assyrians (see Figs. 271 and 272). 
The direction in which they lie in some cases favours this interpretation, in 
others contradicts it. At any rate it is certain that the round log origi- 

Fic». 271. — Assyrians using Sledge-runners for Transport. Bas-relief at Kujundschik 
The load, placed oa xunaers, is drawn from the front, and a lever used to assist the operation at the back is prevented 
from slipping off by having a block rammed against its lower end. There are pieces of wood, probably of circular sec- 
tion, under the runners, probably intended to convert sliding into rolling friction. ’ The view that the wood is placed in 
the appropriate transverse position for this is supported by the way in which the man is holding the piece of wood 
that he is about to place underneath and by the foreshortening of the log behind his head due to its being drawn in 
perspective. Evidence against this view is, however, given by the position of the pieces of wood immediately in 
front of the lever. We may assume that they have been laterally displaced or discarded in the motion.^ (Below on 
the left there is a shadoof : see also Fig. 357) 

nally applied to use rolling friction, which facilitates transport, gave rise 
to the wheel. The wheeled vehicle necessarily appeared simultaneously 
with the wheel, but its beginnings are likewise lost in the obscurity of time. 
The vehicles of the Assyrians and the Egyptians used to have wheels 
with six, eight or more spokes, whereas the wheels of the Greeks were 
better constructed and had only four spokes. The earliest form of wheel 
was probably a simple wooden disc of moderate thickness. The spoked 
wheel was also of wood originally, and later was bound in metal ; finally, 
it was made entirely of bronze. Bronze wheels of this type that have 
been preserved have round spokes and a felly with a deep groove. The 
1 They are certainly rollers, here and in Fig. 272, their apparent position result- 
ing from the artists' lack of skill in foreshortening.— Tmws. 

Fig. 272. — ‘Assyrians transporting a gigantic Monument on Runners. Bas-relief at 

A lover at the back, pieces of wood (logs) in front., behind and below the runnersj lying partly lengthwise and partly 

Fig. 273. — ^Egyptians transporting a Monument on Runners 

The logs do not occur here ; on the other hand, a man on the fore-part of the base is pouring water from a vessel just 
in front of the path (or the artifioially-preparw slide (I)), in order to reduce the friction. Twelfth Dynasty (about 
sooo B.C.). From a rock-tomb at Bersha 

first rendered the wheel capable of surmounting the obstacles in its path. 
They were first made of nails, the heads of which were close together 
and covered the wooden fellies like scales. The tyre was only later made 


of one piece and fastened only by a few nails. It was first ma,de of bronze, 
later of iron. The body of the ancient Egyptian chariot rested directly 
on the axle, which was connected with the movable shaft (Fig. 277) , The 
round frame of the wheel consisted usually of six segments, which was 

Fig. 274. — Egyptians transporting Monuments on Runners 
In the two pictures on the left, the path, which has apparently been, artificially constructed, is being watered. Funeral 
procession of Maia. Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

certainly the easiest way of constructing it ; for it was already known at 
that time that the radius of a circle can be stepped off six times round 
the circumference. Each segment was usually attached to the hub by a 
spoke. But wheels also occur with more spokes, as already mentioned. 

Fig. 273. — A large Vessel carried on Sledge-runners 

From the tomb of Sheshonk. Abu Shehr. Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

The revolving hub w^as pushed over the rounded ends of the axle. The 
gudgeon or bearing part of the axle was pierced with a hole and secured 
by a peg to prevent the wheel from slipping off. The axle itself was 
straight and had a square cross- section. The shaft was fixed to it and was 
inclined upwards. It was provided with two yokes to which the horses 
were harnessed. Besides these vehicles, there were also others for agri- 

Fig. 277. — Egyptian Chariot (war-chariot), 8 ft. long 
Museum, Cairo 

by the Romans ; nor was any other.' In Roman times this was done only 
by the uncivilized peoples such as the Gauls, the Belgians, and the Britons, 
There were very many different kinds of Roman vehicles. Some 
were drawn by two horses, others by three or four, which were always 
harnessed side by side lbiga$, irigm, quadrigae). ITe drag-chain {plans- 
trum) was also known. It was wound through the back- wheel and 
chained to the body of the vehicle so as to prevent the rotation of the 
^Wheels mounted with shai^ sidde-shaped blades, — H.L. B. 


cultural and similar purposes ; they had solid wheels and were drawn 
by oxen. Four-wheeled waggons were also known, but were mostly used 
for religious purposes. 

The vehicles of the Greeks resembled those of the Egyptians, but like 

Fig. 276. — Assyrian Vehicle with Wheels of Eiglit Spoke.s 

the Persians and the Romans they also used four-wheeled waggons for 
transporting heavy loads. The ‘ harmamaxa in which the corpse of 
Alexander the Great (who died 323 b.c.) was conveyed from Babylon 
to Alexandria, was drawn by sixty-four mules, and also had four wFeels. 
Regarding Persian vehicles .special mention must be made of the scythed 
chariot ^ which was used in war. This form was not applied to this purpose 


Fig. 278. — ^Egyptians building Vehicles 
Above : sawing the wood ; shaping the shaft; wheel (of four spokes, a rare form in the older Egyptian vehicl( 
fastening the shaft to the bodyof the chariot; bending and preparing wooden parts; stretching leather parts ' 

Below : 
a trestle 

Fig. 279. — Greek Vase, showing a chariot- with wheels of four spokes 
Berlin, Altes Mhseurn, Antiqnarinm 


wheel. The usual method was to wind the chain round the felly between 
two spokes. The felly was not always cut out in a curved .shape, but 
was bent artificially after the fibres of the wood had been softened in 

Fig. 280. — Greek Bronze Chariot with two wheels of four spokes (Model or Toy) 
Berlin, Altes Museum, .Antiquariuin 

hot water. The process seems to date from very early Grecian times ; 
at least we may infer this from the following passage in Homer [Iliad, 
IV, 486) : ‘ This (the poplar) hath a wainwright felled with gleaming steel, 
to bend' him a felloe for a goodly chariot.' 


The wheel also gave rise to’ one of the most important of the simple 
machines, namely the toothed wheel. If the teeth of two such wheels 
catch in each other, the wheels always rotate in opposite directions. It has 
not been possible to ascertain when this contrivance first came into use. 
Nor do we know whether Aristotle ^ (384-322 b.c.) is referring to toothed 
wheels (as Beck and Pregel hold) when he talks in his book on ' Mechanical 
Problems ’ of ‘ tools that set many circles in motion simultaneously 
by means of a single circle, like those votive ofierings in the temples 
wliich consist of bronze or iron wheels, arranged as follows. When the 
wheel AB is turned forwards, while in contact with CD, the latter moves 
backwards, and, at the same time, for the same reason, EE revolves 
in the original direction, and so forth if there are stiU further wheels.’ 
I'here are many reasons for believing that this refers to toothed wheels. 

Vitruvius, on the other hand, often mentions the toothed wheel ; and . 
Heron of Alexandria applies it elegantly in an appliance like the modern 
taximeter which served the purpose of measuring the distance covered. 
In this hodometer (Fig. 281) a pin attached to the .axle of the wheel (in 
the right-hand bottom corner of , the diagram) catches in the radial 
pegs, and turns them when the atle rotates. This rotation is trans- 
mitted by means of endless screws and further toothed wheels to the 
indicator in line with A and carrying a small hand. The greater the 

See note on p. 203. The reference is to [Arist.] Meehan. 848a, 24. — Trans. 

2i6 technical mechanics and machines 

number of toothed wheels the greater the distance covered for one revo- 
lution of the indicator (that is, the more slowly the indicator moves). 
Each turn of the indicator denotes a definite distance traversed by 
the chariot. The small hands on the left of 
^ the fi^re serve to measure subdivisions of 

distance. For the rest, Heron makes 

i : plentiful use of toothed wheels in his auto- 

i jd I matic machines and puppet shows, in which 

he sets the arms of the figures into motion 
n ^ by means of such wheels and lever devices 

A I A n (Fig. 283). We also find them mentioned in 

^ his writings in conjunction with winches : 
V i ^ they were used together for a contrivance in 

temples in which a bird is rotated and made 

® to sing and so forth (Fig. 283). 

Fig. 281.— Apparatus for meas- Vitruvius also describes a meter for 

HSon‘*oTASandST“#itK Carriages in which stones are used to record 
toothed wheels and ‘ endless the distance covered in place of Heron’s 
screws’ indicators. 

‘ Let there be attached he says, ' firmly to the nave on the inner side a (vertical) 
drum having one projecting tooth. Above it, on the carriage-body, let there be 
another (vertical) drum with 400 teeth, geared on to the lower one. Let it have a 


Fig. 282. — The Arm of a Puppet being 
moved by a tootlied wheel (according to 
Heron of Alexandria) 

The toothed wheel is here fixed to a spindle (so-called 
cam-wheel). When the spindle is turned by means of a 
weight it depresses the end 7 of the lever. After the cam 
of the wheel has slipped over y, y is restored to its old 
position by the weight which acts on the other arm jBe 
of the lever, whereupon the next cam again depresses 7. 
'rhis causes the arm to carry out a hammering motion. 
(Below is a sketch of the apparatus as seen from above) 

Fig. 283. — ^Toothed Wheels and 
Winches (according to Heron of 

The apparatus consists of a bird which rotates 
and whistles when the wheel 6k is turned. The 
whistling is produced by the air-chamber v after 
it lias been raised by turning 6k and then, by 
releasing 6k, allowed to fall under its own weight 
into the vessel m which is full of water. This 
forces the contained air through the pipe fo. 

stud which projects laterally. Geared on to this stud let there be a third drum, 
fixed horizontally, pierced with as many holes as the maximum number of miles 
the carriage can go on a day. In each hole place a pebble. In the case or cover- 
ing of this , last drum let there be ,a single tube, through which the pebbles, as they 
come over it, may drop into a bronze vessel placed imderneath in the carriage-body. 
In this way, 400 revolutions of the wheel will move the second drum once around : 


its stud will thus move a tooth of the horizontal drum ; a pebble will fall and its 
rattle will record the completion of a mile'. (Abbreviated from Vitruvius, de 
archit., X, 9, 2-4.) 


Very important forms of application of the wheel were the capstan 

— Clear propelled by a camel. Consisting of two wheels, with plugs mounted 
the circumference. A construction for drawing water from the Nile — identically the 
same in form as that used by the ancient Egyptians 

'I tread-wheel. The capstan is 

LI mentioned by Vitruvius, who is well 
l i of the difference between the 

capstan (or whim, ergata) and the 
windlass {cula). The first of these two 
placed vertically ; in 
the second the axle lies horizontally. 
The capstan was chiefly used in Roman 
i mills, where it was worked either by 

man-power or by animals, particularly 

horizontal axle carrying one wheel 

with radial pegs on the circumference ^ '‘-^W 

and another carrying a series of jars ; ‘ 

set up in the manner customary among Fig. aSO. — Ti*ead-wheel connected with a 

the ancient plgyptians Bucket-system (Chain-pump) 

asses. The oldest form of the toothed wheel occurred among the 

2 I 8 


ancient Egyptians ; it consisted of a wooden wheel the circumference 
of which was provided with plugs. 

The tread- wheel served for pumping water, for moving loads, and 
also for erecting columns and similar objects. In the amphitheatre of 
Capua there is a relief still extant which represents a tread- wheel in which 
two naked youths are shown running. The motion of the wheel causes 
a rope to wind up on a pulley suspended from a framework of beams. A 
heavy column is fastened to one end of the rope. Alongside it a youth 
is seen chiselling a capital. Minerva is holding her hand in protection 
over the whole. For the rest, Philon of Byzantium (about 230 b.c.) 
mentions that the tread-wheel is used for drawing water. 


Fig. 288. — ^Egyptian Bows from tombs in Tliebes 
Above : Simple bow (length of string, s ft). Below : Artistically made composite bow (length of string, 3 ft. 6 in.) 
Berlin Museum, Egyptian Department 

simply laid on the ground, but propped up against the door. When unused 
it was kept in a decorated case and hungup on a peg. When it was to be 
^ See H. Balfour in Journ,. Roy, Anth. Inst., li (1921), p. 289. 

The elasticity of bodies was exploited by the ancients particularly 
for devices used in war. The simple bow is the oldest of all weapons 
for projecting missiles ; this is true for 
almost any part of the world. In it 
4r elasticity of wood is applied to 

y shooting of the arrows. In the age of 
A Homer it did not yet play a prominent 
f combats around Troy 

\ H il other arms were more important. In 

..._ 11 ‘ancient times the wooden bow was 

made of the yew-tree or taxm. H. 
Menge assumes r^iov and taxus to 
/// l 1 \ cognates. Besides the ordinary 

J/ [V wooden kind a composite bow which 

^ ^ was much more efficient was also used. ^ 

Odysseusmostly carrieda bow of this 
Bow sort. It had been given to him, to seal 

In the separate^^^g on^he^ight the ends are thck friendship, by IpMtUS {OdySSCy , 

XXI, 13) . It was made of horn care- 
fully smoothed and of reflex curve {naXivTovov) , and so large that it was not 


restrung tallow was rubbed in, while it was warmed over a fire. From 
Homer's descriptions we may draw the further conclusion that the bow 
was normally kept in a 
relaxed condition, and 
that the string was fixed 
just before use. This 
was done in the follow- 
ing way : the loose end 
of the string was un- 
done from the lower 
end of the bow and was 
hooked into the upper 
end (ivtavvsLv) „ For this 
purpose the bow had 
to be bent {rLtaLVELv). 

Then the arrow was 
placed on the bow, 
and the string further 
stretched to shoot it 
off. In Iliad IV, 105 
sqq,, it is asserted that 
Pandaros' bow was 
made of the horns of a 
wild goat (pasang, 

CaPta hivCUS asga^vusj . Above: Unstrung. In the middle; Provided with a string. Below 

a physical impossibility. Bent for shooting 

for they will not bend. 

It must therefore have been composite, probably of horn, sinew, and 
wood. The composite bow was better and stronger than the simple 
wooden bow, but required more skill for 
its manipulation. Long before Homer 
the composite bow was used by the 
Egyptians (Fig. 288). One relic dates 
from the time of Rameses II, that is, from 
the thirteenth century b.c. ; another 
originates from an Egyptian tomb of 
the seventh century b.g., that is, from 
the post-Homeric era. A very difficult 
matter in the manipulation of the bow 
was the fixing of the string. It is fOr 
this reason that the ‘prudent ' Penelope 
required this of her suitors. The com- 
posite bow which comes from Asia, 
where it still continues in use among 
some peoples (Fig. 289), is made of 
horn, wood and sinews, and recoils, that 
is, when unstrung it curves back in the opposite direction. If it is to 
be bent again, it has to be stretched first and then crooked in the 

Fig. 290. — Greek Vase showing a 
Man in the act of bending a Bow of 
the recoiling type 


reverse direction. To perform this a certain strength is needed, but above 
all a familiarity with the special trick involved. Penelope’s suitors were 
ignorant of this knack, whereas Odysseus, being the owner of the bow, 
knew it well. The way in which a bow of this kind had to be strung is 
described by Buchner as follows. ‘ One loop of the string is fixed into 
the cut specially made at the top of the bow and is held fast there by the 
right hand, The back of the bow faces downwards. The right leg is 
then placed between the bow and the string, and the lower half of the 
bow is laid on the left knee, which thus takes over the pressure of reaction. 
In this position the lower loop of the string is fixed into the corresponding 
cut in the lower end of the bow by the left hand which has now become 
free.’ Buchner states that this method of stringing a bow, 'which must 
obviously be the same as that practised by the Turks, was probably 
usual among the ancient Greeks, who had similar bows at a later period.’ 
It can also be strung in a sitting posture, and it is in this way that Odysseus 
is likely to have done it. 

These statements are in accordance with those of an anonymous 
writer in the TdgUche Rundschau (22nd June, 1914) describing the 
bending of a compound bow which came from the Dutch East Indies. 
The string is thick and solid ; it is made of animal gut twisted together. 

' The bow was made of black horn. It was from two to two and a half 
inches wide, about two-fifths of an inch thick and five feet long. In the 
middle it had a round piece of wood four to five inches long and two inches 
thick, which served as a handle. To it the two long pieces of horn were 
fixed by means of two iron rings. Threads were artistically twisted 
round the handle.’ ^ ' The .string had a loop at both ends. A first attempt 
at bending the bow was unsuccessful. It slipped through the hands, 
twisted around and assumed its original form. It was only when laid 
on the upper and lower thigh that the string readily allowed itself, to be 
fastened to the notch in the bow. Less force was necessary for bending 
the bow than for shooting, but it could be done only by someone familiar 
with the trick. The full strength of a man was needed to produce the 
necessary tension for .shooting. The arrow would then travel over 
thirty yards. As the driving power of the bow increased considerably 
for a small increase in tension, the composite bow, which gradually super- 
seded the wooden bows in Greece, would carry to remarkable distances 
if used by .strong and skilled archers. The arrow dispatched by a com- 
posite bow can fly as far as a thousand yards and is capable of shooting 
right through a bison, as is known from an investigation of the bow of 
the Sioux Indians, which is likewise a composite bow made of horn. 
This achievement cannot be equalled by the heavy Colt revolver used 
by the American army, A great number of Assyrian, Babylonian, 
Egyptian and Greek pictures, showing the simple or composite bow 
or the bending of the latter, are still extant. 

A natural development of the bow was the arbalest or crossbow. 

1 The description, shows this to have been a compound bow, i.e. one made of 
two pieces of the same material joined together. The Homeric bow was probably 
composite, i.e. made of a combination of different materials, — Trans. 


The ancient Greeks knew of a species of crossbows which were bent by 
a winch or spanner. The front end of the stock was hrmly planted 
against the ground, and the back end pressed down by the lower part 
of the body in order to hold the weapon tight while it was being stretched. 
In the Middle Ages, too, ample use was made of the crossbow. It is 
hardly necessary to describe it, as the details of its construction and 
manipulation are well known. Here again it is the elasticity of a bow 
stretched into a frame that shoots off the missile — ^in this case the arrow. 

Although the achievements of the ancient bows are amazing even 
from the point of view of the modern science of ballistics, they were 
surpassed by the ancient ballistic machines, whose action likewise depended 
on the exploiting of the property of elasticity. In these the tension 
was generally brought about by twisting a cable composed of several 
strands. The same principle is still observed nowadays in the way in 
which the strings of saws are tightened, as was also done by the ancients 
in the case of saws. When such a saw is loosened the wooden peg held 
fast in the twisted string recoils with great force against the middle part 
of the saw-frame. A single extra turn of the peg considerably increases the 
tension. In the ancient ballistic machines, designated by the generic 
term tormenta,^ the tension was extraordinarily increased by means 
of levers and winches. While the use of ballistic machines attained 
its zenith with the Romans, they were undoubtedly also used by the 
peoples of the East. In the Second Book of Chronicles (xxvi, 15) it is 
said of Uzziah, King of Judah (779-740 b.c.), ‘And he made in Jerusalem 
engines, invented by cunning men, to be in the towers and upon the bul- 
warks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal ’. 

The essential constituent part of all these ancient ballistic machines 
is the twisted cable, consisting of intertwined cords resembling a 
sinew-pack. According to the number of these cables we may dis- 
tinguish between weapons with one arm and one cable, and those with 
two arms and two cables. Hemp and flax, the usual materials for making 
ropes, attract moisture from the air and particularly in rainy weather 
absorb large quantities of it, which causes a change in length and also 
in the resistance to torsion. For this reason substances were chosen as 
a rule whose sensitiveness to moisture had a less troublesome effect. 
Among materials of this kind there were, above all, the sinews of animals, 
horse-hair and women’s hair. One way of producing tension is by 
twisting. In order to save time and energy, however, the separate strands 
of the cable were tightened as much as possible beforehand. The method 
of doing this, which was also adopted in the reconstructions at Saalburg, was 
probably as follows : a cord was fastened at one end to a peg in a specially 
constructed frame ; it was then wound to and fro through holes and 
over pegs until the other end was reached, which was then also fastened. 
During the whole process the cord was kept stretched to the utmost. 

Ammianus Marcellinus (XXIII, 4, 4), who died about a.d. 400, gives 
us a description, complete in all details, of one particular kind of ancient 

^ Ballistae and catapults are terms often applied to such, weapons, but they do 
not characterize them in tlie least. 



one-armed ballistic machine, the fiovdyHcov, or onager (wild ass), a nick- 
name given to it by the soldiers since by kicking out with its hind legs, 
a wild ass flings earth and stones ; it is also called because 

the slinging arm of the weapon, which, is curved upwards, resembles 
the telson, the hooked tail, of the scorpion. 

It appears from the exhaustive and standard investigations of Schneider, 
whom we here follow, that it consisted of a lower part made of two solid 
horizontal beams of oak, firmly joined by cross-beams ‘like the runners of 
a threshing-sledge ’ {hique in modum serratonae machinae connectuntur) . 
The beams are higher in the middle, carrying bosses through which holes 
are bored to take the horizontal 
cable which is tightly stretched to 
and fro over the tension-pegs fixed 
outside in the manner already des- 
cribed. Fixed in the middle of this 
bundle of cords there is a wooden arm 
which usually projects obliquely up- 
wards and is capable of motion back- 
wards below or forwards above. To its 
upper end there is attached a sling made 
of cords into which the missile, a 
stone, is placed. The slinging arm 
could be moved backwards by means 
of a windlass and held in that posi- 
tion by a bolt. This movement still 
further tightened the already taut 
bundle of cords. When the bolt 
was now knocked off the arm was 
suddenly dragged forwards by the cords, striking a buffer which was 
protected from the violent recoil by a cushion. In obedience to the 
law of inertia the sling retained its forward motion even after the 

Fig, 291.—' Onager’ (Ballista with one 
arm). Tightening the slinging arm 
Reconstruction by Schramm 

sudden stopping of the arm, so that the stone flew towards its goal in a 
high trajectory. The sudden check to the motion of the arm, how- 
ever, caused a recoil which made it necessary to mount the machine on 
a base which yielded to pressure, such as turf or air-dried bricks. A 
platform of solid stone would have been split asunder under the strain 
of the recoil. 

Reconstructions of the ‘ onager ’ as well as of other kinds of ballistic 
machines have been made by Schramm. The wrenching power of the 
stretched cords, which amounts to an initial pressure of about 14 tons 
in the two-armed machines to be discussed presently, was iiicreased-sto-.,, 
70 tons in the great onager at Saalburg : this is equal to the tractive 
power of a very powerful locomotive. Experiments in which this 
initial pressure was used showed that it was possible to hurl a stone 
sphere over 4 lbs. in weight a distance of nearly 400 yds. 

By exploiting the elasticity of two bundles of sinews in place of that 
of one there developed from the one-armed ballista that with two arms, 
which can shoot forth either arrows {&Qyava d^v^eXif) or stones {XiOo^oXa). 



Fig. 292. — Onager. In a state of tension, ready for shooting 
Reconstruction by Schramm 

There are thus two kinds of two-armed ballistae, a lighter one for shooting 
arrows, the eidhytona [evOvrova) and the heavier type for hurling stones, 
t\iQ p alintona 
[naXivxova). So we |gg^ 
may talk of a light ' 
and a heavy artil- 
lery even of the 
ancients. The 
weapon projecting 
arrows could be of a 
lighter structure, as 
less power was neces- 
sary to produce the 
necessary tension. 

Those of the second 
kind were built more 
solidly. They were 
specially strength- 
ened at the back and were bent, not by man-power, but by the aid of 
winches or compound pulleys. 

The two-armed ballistae are not cross- 
bows, although their appearance might 
easily lead one to mistake them for such. 
The difference consists in the fact that the 
crossbow is merely an improved bow, 
shooting the missile in virtue of its elas- 
ticity. The two-armed ballista, on the 
other hand, is an advance on the onager : 
the missile is projected by the tension of 
the bundle of cords. It is not a com- 
pound bow. Its two halves have no 
connection with each other ; each acts 
independently of the other. Their sole 
purpose is to transfer the power from the 
two bundles of cords to the sinew (string). 
In stretching the crossbow the bow is bent> 
whereas in the case of the two-armed 
baUista the two halves of the bow act 
merely as levers, transferring the tension 
to the bundles of cords. 

The ballista with two arms was fur- 
nished with devices for sighting, altering 
elevation and traversing ; all these things 
were accomplished mth great ease and 
accuracy, so that their aim was true to a high 
degree, see for instance the de hello Africa , 
model a lead ball weighing i lb. was 
The light euthytonon reconstructed from 

Fig. 293. — Two-armed Ballista 
(according to the description 
ol Vitruvius, X 10) 

/, groove between bars with strips g on 
each side ; hik, windlass for stretclimg ; 
ml, trigger {or handle) ; «, middle bar on 
which the arrow was placed; 6ccil, stretch- 
ing frame ; aa, the two bundles of sinews ; 
pq, stand with three stnits; nt, props 
(when movable, presumably a means of 
directing the aim of the arrow) 

xxiv, 4). In Schramm's 
carried some 330 yards. 

224 technical mechanics and machines 

a stretching frame found in 1912 at Ampurias in Spain was capable 
of shooting short arrows 340 yds. against the wind. Four arrows, 
each 4 spithamai, that is 3 ft. in length, like those of ancient Greece, 
when dispatched from a two-armed ballista built according to Vitruvius' 
descriptions, ‘ pierced an iron-plated shield i|- in. thick, half of the 
arrow (i| ft.) passing through it : thus a man carrying it would have 
been put out of action when hit ’ (Schramm), 

Notwithstanding these achievements, however, the ancient ballistae 
had various defects, the greatest of which was the slackening of the cords 
through being continually subjected to tension. Philon of Byzantium 
(about 230 B.c.) therefore suggested improvements in the construction, 
as described in the fourth book of his mechanica syntaxis. His 
first advance consisted in making a ‘ wedge-spanner ' by which wedges 

Fig. 294. — ^The Pneumatic Spanner of Ktesibios 

The airtight pistons fghi move to and fro in the cylinders abed. When pushed into the cylinders they compress 
the contained air. By means of the joints km the pistons are linked up with two arms, which turn on the axles n and 
are connected at their upper ends with the string, which discharges the missiles. When the string was stretched the 
pistons moved into the cylinders, and when it was released they were forced outwards by the compressed air and in 
turn forced the string against the missile with great violence so that it was propelled in a trajectory of considerable range 

were forced into the bundle of cords in order to keep up the necessary 
tension. It is clear that any slackening can be counterbalanced in 
this way. A further improvement was the ‘ bronze spanner chalkotonon 
{xaXxorovov) , in which the defective cords were replaced by bronze, that is, 
metal. But it is doubtful whether all these good ideas were actually 
put into practice, for no mention is made in the literature of antiquity 
of the actual use of the spanner with wedges or the brass spanner. They 
have been reconstructed by Schramm, but the results they gave were in 
no wise better than those of the older machines. If they were constructed 
at all in antiquity their advantages must have been that they worked 
more consistently and were unaffected by the weather rather than any 
ballistic superiority. 

Another invention of this type originates from Ktesibios, who probably 
lived in the second century B.c, It is the ' pneumatic spanner ' (d 
xXrjdelg degotovog, see Fig. 294, above). By this device the string of 
the bow was stretched by cylinders in which pistons compressed the 
contained air. Although Philon praises this 'pneumatic spanner', it 
does not seem to have become popular either. Reconstructions by 
Schramm gave no noteworthy results (Fig. 294). 

More important than these machines was the multiple charged 



polybolos (jroJlw/9oAo?) invented by Dionysios of Alexandria. It is a kind 
of machine-gun in which the tension is generated by turning a crank. 
By this action an arrow is at the same time automatically placed ready 
for a fresh shot. The arrows come out of a funnel situated above the 
arrow-groove and first slide on to a reel which is turned by the crank 
and which has a groove for receiving the arrow. After a half-turn this 
groove is at the bottoiii and allows the arrow to drop into the arrow-groove 
ready for discharging. The machine was worked by one man. It is 
also praised by Philon, but to what extent it came to be used is not 
known. The reconstructed models are surprisingly accurate in their 
aim, the only defect being that all the arrows were directed at the same 
spot, so that there was no ‘scattering’. Under certain circumstances 
this is an advantage, for example, when it is a matter of preventing the 
enemy from climMng up scaling-ladders or ramparts or from making 
their exit through a gate. 

To understand fully the ancient art of constructing ballistic machines 
it is essential to know that in his descriptions Vitruvius expresses the 
dimensions of the machine in terms of the given length of the shaft 
of the arrow as the unit A The diameter of the holes through which the 
sinews are stretched is one-ninth of this unit, and is the derived unit, 
that is d == b ( 1 ) where lis the length of the shaft, in terms of which all 
the other measures are given. 


In hydraulics it is the siphon, above all, that was used in antiquity for 
manifold purposes : it occurred in the form of the ordinary siphon as well 
as in that of the plunging- siphon and the hydraulic press. The Egyptians 
were foremost in using the ordinary form as an every-day appliance. 
A great number of ancient representations inform us that they not only 
transferred liquid from one vessel to another by means of it but also used 
it in drinking. The forerunner of the siphon may have been a pipe used 
for sucking as depicted in Fig. 295 : such a pipe cannot be regarded as a 
tnie siphon although it makes use of the atmospheric pressure on liquids 
to raise them out of a vessel to the level of the mouth. If, while sucking 
or drinking, the longer limb of the bent pipe were allowed to fall quickly 
enough and if by accident the lower surface of the liquid in this limb came 
to lie below the free surface of the liquid in the vessel, siphoning would 
occur automatically, and the liquid would flow out in spite of its having 
first to flow upwards in the shorter limb. Perhaps Fig. 295 actually 
dejncts how a siphon is started by sucking. The three points which 
favour this view are the length of the one limb (which is apparently being 
supported to prevent the snapping of the bent pipe), the fact that there 
is a bend, and that the youth is holding in his left hand another vessel which 
is probably to be filled and offered to the woman waiting on the right. 

1 Vitruvius says (X, 10, i) : ' The proportions of these engines are all computed 
from the given length of the arrow which the engine is intended to throw, and 
the size of the holes in the capitals through which the twisted sinews that hold 
the arms are stretched is one-ninth of that length.' 

T.A.S. — 15 


An extraordinary number of applications of the siphon are given by 
Heron of Alexandria, who also occupied himself with the theory of the 
action, making liberal use of the teachings of his master^ Ktesibios. 

The plunging-siphon was also used for extracting and transferring 
drinks, Philonof Byzantium gave a theory of its action as well as of the 
ordinary siphon. It occurs very often in the form of an inverted poppy 

(' Aristotle's sieve '), such 
as was also used in the 
oldest form of water-clock, 
the clepsydra, as early as 
522 B.c. The clepsydra 
consisted of a narrow tube 
open at the top and widen- 
ing out in the shape of a 
poppy at the bottom, the 
base being perforated over 
a fairly small region. The 
clepsydra represents noth- 
ing more than a plunging- 
siphon : it was filled by 
being plunged into water 
and left until it had become 
full. The upper aperture 
was then held closed in 
order that the pressure of 
the air should prevent the 
escape of the water through 
the narrow orifices. So 
soon as the upper aperture 
was uncovered, the water 
Fig. 295-— -a Sucker in use escaped at the lower end. 

The interval which elapsed 

Haight, I ft, ; width, 10 in. Berlin Museum, Egyptian section whilC the VCSSel emptied 

itself could serve as a 
measure of time. The rate of flow was of course not uniform, being 
quicker at the beginning and gradually decreasing. The chief use of the 
clepsydra up till 422 b.c. was for physical experiments (by Empedocles 
and others) and also to a smaller degree as a kitchen-clock for boiling 
eggs. After that date it became the universal instrument for measuring 
time, for example, in the law-courts, where the time allocated to orators 
for their speeches was measured by it. Doctors also used it for counting 
pulse-beats. The action of the famous water-clock of Ktesibios (Fig. 296) 
is based on that of the plunging-siphon. For Philon of Byzantium writes 
that Ktesibios had made a fine tube by boring a small hole in a piece of 
gold or a precious stone through which the water flowed out regularly into 
a large vessel beneath. The rising water in this vessel raised a float 
iThat Heron was actually a pupil of Ktesibios is by no means certain. — 



carrying a rod provided with 
little teeth which caught, in 
toothed wheels and brought 
about all the motions neces- 
sary for recording time. 
The Deutsches Museum in 
Munich possesses a recon- 
structed model of Ktesibios’ 
water-clock made by Speck- 
hart. The internal mech- 
anism is as just described. 
The rack and pinion and 
other toothed gearing are 
connected with a column 
4 ft. high, on the cylindrical 
surface of which the hours of 
the day from one to twelve 
twice over are marked 
from below upwards. On 
the right at the foot of 
the column there is a female 
figure from whose eyes tears 
are continually falling. 
These tears collect in a 
vertical tube and gradually 
raise a float which supports 
a second female figure on 
the left of the column, 
whose purpose is to indi- 
cate the hour by means of 
a rod while moving past the 
column. When the figure 
has traversed the twelve 
hours of day and the twelve 
hours of night, a valve 
opens in the large collecting 
chamber and allows the 
water in it to flow out on 
to a water-wheel which 
makes the toothed gearing 
turn by a certain amount 
and so causes the cylindrical 
■'umn to register the ad- 
^ of a day. Thus the 

X Fig. 2q 6. — Ktesibios’ Water-clock 
X as reconstructed by Speckhart 
Deutsches Museum, Munich 



column moves once round its axis in 365 days. In this process the 
collecting chamber empties itself completely, and the figure with the 
supporting float rapidly sinks to its initial position, closing the valve, and 
then begins to indicate the succession of hours of the new day. Each 
new day is recorded by means of the tongue of a serpent in the act of 

rearing itself up. Similar 
U water-clocks were in use in 
Egypt as early as 300 b.g. 

The principle of its 
action is sufficiently clearly 
seen in this reconstructed 
model. There may be 
differences of opinion 
about the details, such as 
how the rate of flow into 
the collecting chamber was 
y regulated, how the length 
of the hour was adapted 
to the prevalent season, 
for according to the con- 
vention of the ancients 
the hours were shorter in 
winter than in summer, 
since the time between 
sunrise and sunset was 
simply divided into twelve 
equal parts. As pointed 
out by Diels, the appar- 
atus could, be adapted to 
meet the varying length of 
the hour in two ways : 
either by altering the rate 
of supply of the water 
Fig. 297. — Ktesibios’ Water-clock as reconstructed according tO the seasOn, Or 
by Diels by making the indicating 

See the additional note on p. 332. Variable. In the 

latter case the inflow of water must remain quite constant. Diels solves 
the problem of producing a regular supply in his reconstructed model 
(Fig. 297) by following the directions of Vitruvius^ (IX, 8, 6). The 
second method of overcoming the difficulty raised by the varying length 
of the hour in the different seasons was very simple. It is visible in 
Speckhart’s model as well as in that of Diels, and is as follows. 

The signs of the Zodiac are written around the top of the rotating'' 
column. Below each sign twelve equal spaces are marked out, but the, 
space under each sign differs in size from those under any other sign", 
that is, only meshes in the same vertical column are equal. As we pass 
along the signs of the Zodiac in the direction of the winter months, the 
. •■■1 See ■p.-.-.232.-' 

■ y 


incslies in the corresponding columns become successively narrower, since 
the hours become shorter. On the other hand, in the direction c)f the 
summer months the meshes become broader, corresponding to longer 
hours. As mentioned above, the column performs a complete revolution 
once in 365 days. In this way the figure standing on the float indicates 
with its rod shorter hours in winter and longer hours in summer. 

The hydraulic press served in antiquity to convey water over hills ; 
in this way water was sometimes raised to considerable heights (over 
1,000 ft. at Pergamon). Further details will be found in the Section on 
Water Supply. 


To exploit the pressure of water the water-wheel was used, but it was 
known only in the under-shot form. In Roman times it was used both on 
land and on ships. The frequent assertion that over-shot water-wheels 
were also used for technical purposes is not corroborated by trustworthy 
evidence. One important form in which the under-shot wheel was 
universally used in antiquity was the 
Persian wheel or noria. Vitruvius 
(X, 5, i) writes as follows about it : 

' Wheels are used in rivers in the same 
fashion as has been described above. 

Around them boards are attached and these 
being struck by the rush of the stream move 
forward and force the wheel to turn, and in 
this fashion they draw up the water in 
buckets and carry it to the top without 
workmen to tread the wheel. Thus, being 
turned by the flow of the stream, the wheels 
furnish what is necessary for the purpose in 

‘Water-mills are turned in the same 

For the rest, the under-shot water-wheel has survived up to the present 
day in many Alpine valleys, whose civilization dates back to Roman times 
even in places where the middle- or over-shot wheel would have been 
equally suitable on technical grounds. 


Gas-pressure was made use of in antiquity only in isolated instances, 
but both atmospheric and steam pressure found some applications. We 
have already described how Ktesibios made use of air-pressure in the 
brass spanner for bending bows. A more important application is the 
force-pump, also invented by Ktesibios, of which several descriptions 
have been handed down to us. We will quote that of Vitruvius (X, 7), 
which seems to be the best : 

‘ It is made of bronze, and has at the bottom a pair of cylinders (ao) set a little 
way apart, and there is a Y-shaped pipe (c) connected with both (bb), and joining 

Fig. 298. — Use of the under-shot 
W'ater-wheel in the manner of the 
ancient Romans. Near Wolkenstein 
in the Val di Gardena 



them to a vessel {d) which is between the cylinders. In this vessel are valves 
{e) accurately fitting over the upper vents of the pipes, which stop up the vent- 
holes, and keep what has been forced by pressure into the vessel from going down 

‘ Over the vessel a cowl {/) is adjusted, like an inverted funnel, and fastened 
to the vessel by means of a wedge thrust through a staple, to prevent it from being 
lifted off by the pressure of the water that is forced in. On top of this a pipe is 
jointed, called the trumpet, which stands up vertically. Valves are inserted in 
the cylinders, beneath the lower vents (g) of the pipes, and over the openings [h) 
which are in the bottoms of the cylinders.. 

‘ Pistons (i) smoothly turned, rubbed with oil, and inserted from above into the 
cylinders, work with their rods (A) 
and levers upon the air and water 
in the cylinders, and, as the valves 
stop up the openings, force and 
drive the water, by repeated pressure 
and expansion, through the vents 
of the pipes into the vessel, from 
which the cowl receives the inflated 

Fig. 299. — Fire-pump. Reconstructed 
according to the directions of Vitru- 

Fig. 300. — ^The Water-organ of Ktesibios 
If the lever-arm H is pressed down by foot, the piston B is 
pressed upwards in the cylinder A. This forces the air in 
A to pass through the valve C into D. If the piston sinks 
under its own weight, air is again drawn into A and is again 
forced over into D. The air in the receiver D presses down 
the contained water and causes the level of the water outside 
to rise. The pressure of this water makes the air in D and 
E rush through the organ pipe G and causes it to sound 
whenever E and G are brought into communication by 
striking the key F 

currents, and sends them up through the pipe at the top ; and so the water can 
be supplied for a fountain from a reservoir at a lower level.’ 

There were no hoses to the pump. The architect Apollodorus, who 
lived in the reign of Trajan, sought to overcome this defect by using the 
intestines of oxen for hoses. To one end of them was attached a reservoir 
made of skins sewn together and filled with water. The water was 
expelled by pressing together these siphones, as they were called. Fire- 
men's work was carried out in Rome by the siphonarii. 

In the ruins of Castrum Novum a pump was found which in the main 
agrees with the above description, except that the two pipes are not 
oblique but run horizontally into the air-chamber ; this chamber is 
weakly constructed, being of one piece with the cowl, whereas Vitruvius 
prescribes two pieces. 

The action of Ktesibios' water-organ (Fig. 300) likewise depends on the 



effect of air-pressure. Air is compressed by a piston and forced into a 
receiver. It displaces the water in this receiver. The displaced water 
causes the level of the water in a larger surrounding chamber to rise. 
This outer water transmits its pressure to that within the receiver and 
therefore also to the contained air. When a valve attached to the 
receiver is opened, the air rushes out and is directed into the organ 
pipes situated immediately above. While the air is being expelled the 
water gradually enters the receiver from the outer chamber owing to 
the pressure of the outer water, until the receiver is at last full of 
water again. 

Furthermore, air-pressure is utilized in the apparatus known as Heron’s 
fountain, invented by Heron and still called after him. We may assume 

Fig. 301.— The Aeolipile of Heron of Alexandria 

that the reader is familiar with its construction. It was probably of no 
particular technical value to the ancients. On the other hand, Archytas 
of Tarentum (about 400-365 b.c.) set into motion a flying-machine in the 
form of a wooden dove by means of compressed air (Gellius, N. A. X, 12, 
9 et seq). 

The pressure of steam was exploited in the aeolipile (nowadays called 
Barker’s mill) of Heron : it may be called the first turbine that was made. 
Heron himself gives a description of it somewhat as follows ; 

' The object is to make a ball move on a pivot over a heated vessel. Let 

(Fig. 301) be such a vessel, containing boiling water. Let it be closed at the top 
by a lid yd, to which is fixed a bent tube : this tube is connected by an air- 
tight joint with a hollow ball Ox. Diametrically opposite jj there is a pin Xfj, resting 
on the lid. The baU is furnished with bent hollow arms also diametrically opposite 
one another ; these arms and tubes are connected with the ball and are bent in opposite 
directions. The bends must be imagined right-angled and perpendicular to the 
line r/A. When the boiler is heated the steam enters the ball through etn and con- 
sequently issues forth through the bent arms, impinges upon the lid, and so 
causes the ball to rotate in a manner similar to that of the dancing figures.' 

(In the latter the motion is produced not by steam but by means of 
hot air.) 


For the rest, vSteam pressure was not only used in the above form, in 
which it exerts a dynamic effect, but also in the form in which it is nowa- 
days exploited in Papin's digester, that is, for cooking meat. The Greek 
physician Philumenos reports of this about a.d. 250 as follows. 

‘ The meat is placed in a pot containing rain-water. This pot is then closed 
and greased {clausam ollam minin') and placed at night in an oven filled with glowing 
coals. It is left all night. The steam causes the meat partly to dissolve and 
produces a thick gelatinous brew.' 

In a later passage he remarks about the preparation of a kind of aspic : 
‘ Many people also cook calves’ feet [imgulas vituUnas) in the broth all 
night long, until they dissolve, and then the liquid becomes stiff and 
gelatinous’ {sfissus fit et gluiinosus). 

Diels’ Note on the action of Ktesibios’ Water-clock depicted on p. 228 : 

The water from the pipe A passes through the tap F by which the supply can be cut off ; it passes into the regu- 
lating chamber BCDE and through E by way of a fine tube out into the reservoir KLMN. If the pressure in the main- 
pipe A is great the water in the small chamber will not pass in the ordinary way through E, but will accumulate and 
so raise the float G whose upper surface is conical, so that the supply from the main-pipe is cut off. As the water 
flows out through E the level of the water gradudly falls and with it the float, so that the water from A can flow in 
more readily until the nonnal level is again reached. 



T he technique of lighting and heating was bound to remain on an 
elementary plane so long as the kindling and keeping up of fires 
were more or less a matter of chance. The real development 
began with the time when man had acquired a certain skill in making up 
fires, and when he possessed those contrivances which may be summarized 
under the name of fire-appliances. The place and date of their origin is 
lost in the obscurity of prehistoric ages. Wliereas many archaeologists 
maintain that the art of kindling a fire at will must have ‘reasoned out', 
others are of the more justifiable opinion that this art owes its existence 
to observation and experience. It is very probable that in the making 
of primitive tools and weapons it was frequently observed that the piece 
of wood which was about to be pierced by being bored with another 
piece of wood ignited spontaneously, if both pieces were sufficiently 
dry and covered with boring dust. 

At any rate such appliances, which produced ignition by the friction 
of wood against wood, are found among all the people of antiquity and 
even in prehistoric periods. In the ‘ Homeric ’ Hymn to Hermes we 
read : 

‘ And he brought together much wood, and sought after the art of fire. A 
fair bough of laurel he took and smoothed it to a point (?) with iron and there- 
with drilled, for well it fitted his hand, till a hot breath arose. Yea, Hermes first 
of all produced firesticlrs and fire. And much dry wood he took ; in a trench in 
the earth, in bundles (?), did he lay it in great abundance ; and the flame gleamed, 
shooting forth afar a jet of fire that is mickle of might.’ (108-114 ; see Sikes and 
Allen's notes.) 

If this corrupt and difficult passage is rightly interpreted, and it seems 
certain that something equivalent to the words in italics must be supplied, 
we have a description of the fire-drill in a simple form. Wood of 
the laurel was employed by the Greeks and Romans for a very long 
time for the purpose of ignition. A large piece of soft wood was taken, 
preferably ivy or clematis, in which several holes were bored. In one of 
these holes a rod of hard wood was placed which was provided with a 
233 . 



handle ol hemispherical form similar to that of the bores used in the same 
way. One hand was placed upon the handle and this hard pointed end of 
the rod was pressed into the soft piece of wood. Then it was rotated 
quickly by a bow and bowstring till the easily inflammable material, the 
‘tinder', placed in the hollow space, 
took fire. For tinder such things as 
charred canvas, wood-dust, dry grass, 
dried mushrooms, leaves and so forth 
were used. Pliny (XVI, 208) describes 
this method of making fire as follows ; 

‘Wood is rubbed on wood and this 
friction causes fire which is attracted to 
the dry tinder. There is nothing more 
suitable for this purpose than ivy and 
laurel, the former to be rubbed and 
the latter to produce the rubbing. 
But clematis and other creepers have 
also answered the same purpose well.' 
Besides these fire-appliances, others 
were also known to the ancients. In 
Greece and Rome steel and tinder were 
used in combination with not only ordinary flint but also pyrites, and other 
kinds of suitable stone. The ‘ steel ' was either a longish piece of steel, 
a nail, a key or another piece of the same stone (Pliny, XXXVI, 138). 
Furthermore, fire was made with the help of concave mirrors composed 
of bronze and covered with silver-foil, which were already known in 640 
B.c.,and lenses were made of rock-crystal or glass, as has been proved by 
Layard's discovery in the palace of Assur-nazir-pal at Nineveh. 
Aristophanes (450-385 B.c.) says in his comedy The Clouds (767) that a 
burning lens, such as Strepsiades uses in order to rid himself of a debt of 
five talents by melting a wax tablet, is also used for lighting fires. If 
the sacred flame went out in Rome it was ignited again, according to Plu- 
tarch, by means of bronze or silver concave mirrors or burning lenses. 
Pliny (XXXVII, 28) and Isidore (XVI, 13, i) mention that the latter 
were sometimes made of rock crystal. The assertion that Archimedes 
had set the Roman fleet on fire by means of concave mirrors at the siege 
of Syracuse arose falsely at a later period, and there is no doubt whatso- 
ever that such an act was technically impossible. 



The earliest method of lighting was by means of the hearth-fire. 
According to Homer, for instance, Hermes finds the nymph Kalypso 
weaving by the fireside. There followed the use of splinters of smoulder- 
ing pine-wood. This method persisted throughout the whole of antiquity 
and has not been entirely discarded even to-day. In its place amber 

Fig. 302.-— Bow and Sinew for light- 
ing a fire (so-called fire-drill of the 


Fig. 303. — ^Vasc with Torch-bearer 
Boeotian Vase with red figures from the middle or the second half of the 
fifth century b.c. Altes Museum, Antiquarium, Berlin 

' ^35. 

seems to have been used only by the inhabitants of the Baltic coast. At 
least, Pliny says that they used it ' pro ligno ad ignem that is, in the place 
of pine-wood splinters for producing fire and heat. In proportion as 
civilization and the sense of beauty developed, however, these splinters 

could not entirely satisfy 
all needs. Better and finer 
methods of lighting were 
sought. First of all, the 
splinter was improved, that 
is, it was elaborated into the 
torch, which may have 
served originally as a fire- 

brand, in time of war, to judge by ancient Assyrian representations of the 
ninth century B.c. Several splinters bound together were dressed with 
pitch, asphalt or resin. Later on, sprigs of vine were interlaced and 
saturated in a similar way. At a further stage of development the vine 
was succeeded by fibres which were able to absorb a great quantity of 
such-like fuel, especially when they were old and decayed. In order to 
handle the torch more easily people made use of manifold devices. At the 
time of Homer great pans of clay or copper {Odyssey, XVIII, 307), prob- 
ably placed upon plinths, served as receptacles for very dry wood which 
had been mixed with resinous wood {datq or d^q) and then burned. 
From the sense ‘ re.sinous wood ' is derived the meaning ‘ torch ’ (Schlie- 
mann) ; it occurs in Thucydides, Plutarch, and so on. Later on, little 
cases {<pav 6 g, Lat. funale), were used as torch-holders ; an example of 
this kind of carrying cup was unearthed by Schliemann in the city of 
Tiryns near Argos, which was destroyed in 468 b.c. This torch-holder 
was made of brownish-red clay (Fig. 304). 

Fig. 304.- 

- Torch -holder from 



But the torch could not satisfy the love of beauty of the ancients, who 
required a mode of illumination more in harmony with their standard of 
life. The lamp and the candle were the next stages in lighting, the lamp 
being the older. In Greece the candle does not seem to have been known 
till the time of the Roman emperors, but doubtless both the lamp and 
the candle have developed out of the torch. As a first step, the above- 
mentioned Homeric torch-pans were filled with oil instead of resinous 
wood, and so lamps arose. On the other hand, candles came into existence 
in the following way. The actual inflammable matter was increased in 
the torches and at the same time substances were chosen which made as 
little smoke as possible, and the proportion of fibrous to combustible 
material was continually diminished. 

Lamps were unknown at the time of Homer and did not appear in Asia 
Minor until the sixth century b.c. Previously to this, torches and fire- 
pans and basins filled with burning resinous wood were used in those 
countries for the illumination of houses. There is no conclusive evidence 
that lamps were used even in ancient Egypt in pre- Roman times. Not a 
trace can be found in ancient Egyptian pictures which suggests the use of 
a lamp. On the other hand, paintings of funeral processions sometimes 
show a person carrying a sort of candle or torch, more likely the latter. It 
is true that Herodotus ( 11 , 62) mentions an Egyptian lamp-festival and 
accurately describes the lamps in the words, ‘ these lamps are vessels filled 
with salt and oil on the top of which 
the wick floats But nobody has 
ever found an Egyptian clay-lamp of 
pre- Roman times. If we bear in 
mind the frequent use of glass by the 
Egyptians the , conjecture cannot be 
dismissed that the lamps here referred 
to were of glass, if we assume that 
' lamp ’ is the correct term at aU. In 
AUahun and Hawara in Eg5q)t clay 
bowls of some 3 in. in height, partly 
oval-shaped, were found similar to the 
small night-lights filled with tallow in 
use at the present time. They show 
no provision for the reception of a wick. 
Although the hieroglyphic probably 
represents a lamp of this kind, it is 
doubtful whether such a lamp is meant in 
this instance. The Egyptians used lime- 
stone stands for illuminations at festi- 
vals. They were about a yard in height and supported a flat granite bowl 
which had no device for the reception of a wick. It is probably no more 
justifiable to call them ' lamps ' than the similar stands which date from 
the Minoan period of Crete (Fig, 305). It was not tiU the Romans used 

Fig, 305, — Stone Lamps of the 
Minoan Period of Crete 
From reproductions in the Deutsches Museum, 

the lamp for all kinds of purposes that it spread 
to all peoples of antiquity and became a much- 
used common article. The number of ancient 
lamps handed down to modern times is unusually 
large and among them are some of very high 
artistic merit. The lamp, originally nothing more 
than a crudely-shaped bowl, became in the course 
of time an object of the highest luxury. Although 
it developed to a high standard of artistic excel- 
lence, its progress from a technical point of view 
was slight, apart from a few irrelevant improve- 

The bronze lamps developed from the cast 
and beaten vessels, the execution of which has 
been discussed in detail in the section ‘ Working 
in Metal ’. On the other hand, the more ordin- 
ary forms of clay lamps were chiefly shaped on 

Fig. 306. — Lamp-mould. 
On the edge four bosses 
to secure an exact fit 
with the companion 

Found at Pergamon. Altes 
Museum, Antiquarimn, Berlin 

Fig. 307. — Closed Clay Lamps (Roman) with two or more openings 

(In the top left-hand corner a bowl. In the bottom right-hand comer fibulae.) The lamps are of different form (foot 
and so forth), and have a different number of openings. The three stnallboles beside the bigger hollow in the middle of 
the lamp in the top left-hand corner are intended to accelerate the filling of the vessel, tbe"air escaping through them 
while on is quickly poured into the centre. The lamp has a rim in order that if loo much oil is poured in, it will not 
soil whatever the lamp stands on, but flow back into it. There is a similar rim on the lamps in the top right-hand and 
the bottom left-hand corner ; the latter has an oil reservoir mxd two passages for wicks. The slit behind the apertures 
for the wicks serves partly to allow spilt oil to flow back, for it is unable to flow into the big opening on account of the 
rim, and partly for adjusting the wicks backwards or forwards. Found at Nidda. Stadtisches Historisches Museum, 

Fig. 309. — Closed Roman Lamps (Safety Lamps 

In the completely closed lamps the opening for refilling is very smalt, always smaller, inc 
the wick, so that the oil is prevented from igniting, to the lamp on the left above, there is a 
tliese two openings ; it is on the inner side of the concave surface leading to the opening for 1 
was to allow the wick to be easily ad j usted while it was burning. The opinion that the wick 1 
from slipping by a pin fixed in this hole can hardly be supported becaiise the swollen soake 
and could hardly have been held in position by a smooth pin. Provincial Mi 

;ed, than the opening for 
mall hole visible between 
le wick. The idea of this 
light have been prevented 
wick does not easily slip 
seum, Trdves 


the potter’s wheel. The better ones, however, were made in moulds 
as follows. A lamp-form was modelled 
by hand and covered all round with 
clay which was then cut through hori- 
zontally in such a way that two moulds 
were made, one for the lamp proper 
and one for the lid. Sometimes, how- 
ever, the lid and the vessel seem to 
have been shaped separately. In order 
to secure a close fit for the two parts 
of the lamp the forms were marked 
Fig. 308.— Bronze Lamp with open with corresponding symbols, some- 
Bow] and funnei-^aped Spout for times with letters of the alphabet. 

still more frequently the form of the 

Altes Museum, Antiquarmm, Berlin ^ , 

lamp proper exhibits bosses on the 
edge which fit into corresponding notches in the mould of the lid. 


The two moulds were separately lined with lamp clay, firmly pressed 
in ; before this clay had dried too much, they were placed on top of one 
another and were then probably tied together. The lid and the vessel 
thus came into a suitable position and adhered together to form a uniform 
i whole. After the mould had been opened the lamp was taken out. 

Fig. 310. — Annular Roman Lamp, of 
reddish micaceous clay. With eight 
openings for wicks and one opening 
for refilling, on the right above 
Found at Rottweil, Wilrtemberg. Rottweil 

Fig. 31 1. — .\nmilar Roman Lamp 
with crossed arms, used as a chan- 

Roinisch Gennanisches Zfintralmusfium, Mainz 

The clay, having dried and shrunk a fair amount, is further dried in the air 
and finally burned at a low temperature. Before the la.tter process was 
earned out, details such as handles, ears, adornments (dolphins and so on) 
were sometimes added, which were either formed by hand or made in 

Fig. 312. — Greek Lamp 
on a Stand ; one 
quarter of its natural 

Found at Novum lUuin 

Fig. 313. — Bronze Stool serving as 

Altes Museum, Antiquarimn, Berlin 

large quantities by pressing the clay into moulds. Technically lamps 
improved very little, as already mentioned. First of all open bowls filled 
with oil were used, on top of which the wick floated. Afterwards the 
lamp was provided with a lid which was intended to prevent the oil from 


being spilled when the lamp was being carried about and, more important 
still, to minimize the chance of the oil surface catching fire from the burn- 
ing wick. An opening is kept free in front to enable the lamp to be refilled 


Fig. 3i4.~Bronze Lamp-stands 
Found at Pompeii 

and also serves to take the wick. Later on there were two separate 
openings, one for filling and one for taking the wick. In course of time 
the opening for the wick was made conical in shape. Some lamps have 

separate funnels for the wicks, 

— — — sometimes as many as twelve 

Y s {6 rQlfiv^oL,noX'6fivioi), The 

\ ■ HP poet Kallimachos (310-238 B.c.) 

even mentions alamp with twenty 

Fig. 315. — Greek Lamp-stand for sus- 
pending four lamps 
Found at Pricne. Altes Museum, Antlquarium, Berlin 

.' — Greek Chandelier for sus- 
pending five lamps 
Found at Priene 

wicks. Lamps of this kind, often shaped hke wreaths or flat round bowls, 
were frequently suspended in the manner of our chandeliers (Figs. 310, 311) . 

To enable the lamps to be set down special lamp-stands were used, 
which were often of high artistic perfection and were so devised that they 
could support several lamps at the same time (Figs. 313, 314). On other 
stands, the lamps are suspended by little chains (Figs. 315, 316). Finally 


the lamp was provided with a hollow cylinder leading through it vertically 
from top to bottom and projecting beyond it, by means of which the lamp 
could be moved along a vertical rod attached to the stand. By shifting 
the lamp either upwards or downwards the flame could be brought into 
a suitable position. This motion of the lamp as w^ell as the adjustment of 
the wick was effected by means of small tongs suspended from tiny chains 
or sharp thorns, both merely signifying a primitive method of altering the 
intensity of the illumination. It is not the absolute but the relative 
illumination which is altered, that is, the luminosity remains the same, 
but by altering the distance between the lamp and the place of w'ork, how- 
ever, the amount of light received is now a greater now a smaller fraction 
of the total quantity of light emitted. Replenishing the lamp with oil 

is a troublesome task. Methods 
were therefore sought to enable 
the lamp to be fed for longer 
periods by means of recept- 
acles holding reserve supplies. 

Fig. 318, — The Lamp of Heron of Alex- 
andria, with an automatic adjustment 
of the wick • 

Philon of Byzantium (230 b.c.) improved this oil reservoir by making the 
oil flow automatically and thus maintain the same level (Fig. 317). 
In his oil-lamp a tube Umn with a lateral hole stands vertically in the 
centre of the body of the lamp, which is filled with oil. The oil reaches 
above the hole of the tube, the upper part of which is surrounded by the 
reservoir a containing the reserve supply. The reservoir has two lateral 
orifices be and cd near its bottom. According to a simple physical law 
the oil can flow out of these orifices only if the external atmospheric 
pressure acts on the surface of the liquid in the reservoir. So long as the 
lateral opening of the tube is covered with oil, the surface of the liquid is 
shut off from the air outside. If the flame has consumed sufficient oil to 
free the lateral opening of the tube from the oil in the body of the lamp, 
the external atmospheric pressure exerts itself through this opening and 
the tube, and so acts on the surface of the liquid in the reservoir : the oil 
flows out till the lateral aperture is again covered with it. Then the con- 
nection between the reservoir and the air outside is again interrupted: 
the reservoir supplies no more oil until the opening is once more free. This 
process is repeated so long as the oil supply lasts. Philon’ s lamp shows 
that the physical laws concerning atmospheric pressure had been well 
mastf,red, and it gives an excellent solution of the problem in question. 

JJke the refilling of the lamp, the process of pushing the wick forward 
T.A.S . — 16 


continually is an unpleasant accompaniment in the handling of these 
lamps. Heron of Alexandria therefore constructed another kind of 
automatic lamp in which the motion of the wick is brought about by means 
of a floater and cogged wheels. Heron (1, 34) describes his lamp some- 
what as follows (p. 162, Schmidt) : 

‘ Let us assume the lamp to be a/Sy. Through the orifice or socket we push an 
iron pin which moves freely about the point e. Round the pin we loosely the wick and place beside it a toothed spindle (cog-wheel) ^ which easily 
moves around a small axle. The teeth of this wheel grip into the rod in such a way 
that when the spindle is turned the wick advances through the action of the teeth. 
Let the lamp have another opening in the middle of its body. When oil has been 
filled in, let a vessel r] float on its surface. With the latter connect a small 
toothed vertical rod 0 which grips into the teeth of the small spindle. In proportion 
as the oil is used up the tin sinks, and by means of the teeth of the small rod the 
cog-wheel ^ is made to turn. The consequence is that the wick moves forward,' 

The last-mentioned stage of development as well as the mechanical 
contrivances in the lamp cannot be called improvements from the point 
of view of the technique of illumination : they do not increase the 
luminosity. The manufacture of large lamps and the application of 
thick interlaced wicks are not an improvement either as regards the 
transmutation of the energy contained in the fuel into light. In spite of 
the comparatively large consumption of oil the ancient lamp gave forth 
only a weak light, though it was warm in its colouring. It smokes and 
smoulders excessively, owing to the insufficient supply of air and the 
comparatively low inflammability of the oil. Juvenal (a.d. 60-140) says 
(VII, 222) that the fumes of the lamp brought in by boys blackened the 
busts of Horace and Virgil in the schoolroom. The lamp needed constant 
attention. On account of the air-supply being insufficient the wicks 
deposited oil-soot which had to be removed by snuffing with the above- 
mentioned small tongs. The oil used in the lamps was olive, castor, 
rapeseed or linseed oil ; the castor oil gave only a weak flame. Petroleum 
(naphtha) is said to have been used in Babylonia. Tallow is also used, 
being poured as a liquid into the lamp, where it solidifies. Herodotus 
(II, 62) talks of salt having been added to the oil. The idea of this 
admixture of salt probably was to remove the danger of the oil or tallow 
catching fire. This danger did naturally exist for the open lamps and was 
not altogether excluded in the case of those provided with lids, on account 
of the large openings made to admit the wicks. 

Salt was supposed to counteract the excessive heating of the oil or 
tallow. In the Middle Ages sand was also added to tallow for the same 
purpose. Thus it is likely that this habit was already practised in 
antiquity and continued into the Middle Ages. As the lamps were never ^ 
extinguished, for superstitious reasons, but left till they ceased glimmering 
and went out, the oil-supply was accurately measured off according to 
the duration of lighting and so at the same time served for measuring time. 
The working time in mines, for instance, was ascertained in this way. The 
wick used to be made of papyrus, pith from rushes, flax, hemp, the leaves 

^An over-statement. There was an ancient Roman prejudice against doing 
so, Plutarch, quaestiones Romanos 75, qiMsst. conuiu., p. 7020. — Trans. 



of Vefhascum Linn., parts of the castor-oil plant (said to give forth a 
particularly good light) and of asbestos, which was frequently imagined 
to be a sort of flax {e.g. Pausanias i, 26, 7, O^aXXlg Xivov Kaqnaaiov, i.e. 
from Karpasia in Cyprus). 

Candles were used in two forms, one of them resembling the torch, 
wliere the fibrous substance predominated, and the other form showing a 
likeness to modern candles ; the mass of the wick was very small com- 
pared with that of the combustible matter. According to Niemann, 
whose statements we are following in our discussion, the wick of the 
latter kind consisted of the pith of a species of papyrus [scirpus), whereas 
the wick of the former kind, which resembled torches, was twisted together 

Fig, 319. — Big Greek Bronze Candlestick I'ig. 320. — Upper part (socket) of a 

Berlin, Alles Museum, Antiquarium Greek Candlestick, Fig. 319 

of the fibres of the papyrus plant, or of other fibres. Wax or tallow was 
used as combustible matter. Candles were not cast, as is done nowadays. 
The wick [QQ’oaXXlg, filnm) was first of all impregnated with sulphur and 
then repeatedly dipped in liquid tallow or wax, a process designated by 
the special technical term ‘ candelas sebare which means ‘ to tallow 
candles.' Wax used for the making of candles was prepared with special 
care from honeycombs that had been cleaned in water and dried for three 
days. Afterwards the wax was pressed out and boiled in water in a bronze 
or clay vessel It was then filtered through a texture of rush and boiled 
once more in the same water mixed with fresh cold water. Finally it was 


bleached by repeated boiling with sea-water and dried in the open air. 
Candles were differentiated into tallow candles, wax candles {candelae 
sebaceae and candelae cereae), and a special kind with only one wick, the 
most frequently used, candelae simplices. Candles were burned in candle- 
sticks or candelabra, resembling in many ways those of to-day. They 
were furnished with spikes or sockets and made of clay, bronze or wood 
(Figs. 319-322). ■ The socket has frequently an aperture to facilitate the 

Fig. 321. — 
Etruscan Candel- 
abrum with hori- 
zontal spikes for 
fixing the candles 

Fig. 322. — Boy 
with Torch. 
Bronze candel- 
abrum with 
socket. Pompeii 

Fig. 323. — ^Lantern from Herculaneum 
Left (i), with closed top. Right (2), cross-section with 
lifted top. (3) One of the supports on which the top 
rests, with rine for the chains from which the lantern is 
suspended. (4) Top from above, showing air-holes which 
allow the smoke to escape. As (a) shows, the lid of the 

removal of the candle ends. Some candelabra found in the camp at 
Saalburg are constructed in a particularly practical way, as both ends 
may be used. They are furnished with sockets of different diameters 
so that candles of different thickness may be used. 

The panes of the lanterns (Fig. 323) consisted either of oiled canvas or 
of animal bladder, but mostly of horn, which was shaved until the neces- 
sary degree of transparency was reached. It was not till a.d. 400 that 
glass panes were used for lanterns. The origin of the lantern is the woven 
basket into which the lamp was placed, in order to protect the flame from 
the rain and wind, as is mentioned by Aristophanes (450-385 b.c.) in his 
comedy The Acharnians. 


All the above-mentioned methods of lighting were almost exclusively 
used in the house, for there was no street-lighting in ancient times. Nor 
was it necessary, as people went to bed very early and, as a rule, got up at 
dawn. Whoever wMked the streets in the dark had to use a servant as 
torch- or lantern-bearer or carry a li^ht himself, as, for instance, the Roman 



jnipils who started in tlie dark in order to be at school by sunrise. Streets 
or single squares were only illuminated for great festivities and that was 
done with firebrands kindled in basins specially placed there. The .sub- 
stance burned in them was pitch, resin, asphalt, resinous wood, or a 
mixture of all. Moreover, torches were stuck in the various torch-holes 
or candelabra. Conditions did not change during the reigns of the Roman 
emperors ; even when the night-life of Rome made considerable progress 
the streets remained unlighted as before. On the other hand, towards the 
end of the fourth century a.d. in various towns of the Near East it seems 
to have become the custom to illuminate the streets at night. Libanius 
(a.d. 314-393), as well as the Father of the Church, S. Jerome (a.d, 
345-420), report that in Antioch in Syria streets were lighted up at night. 
The illumination of Antioch was effected by oil lamps hung up on ropes 
over the streets. Also, Caesarea in Cappadocia must have had a similar 
system of lighting, as is seen from remarks of Basil the Great, in the 
year a.d. 371. 


Much more advanced than the system of lighting streets was the 
illumination in lighthouses, of which a great number were erected in 
antiquity. It has often been assumed that in the times of Homer fire- 
stations were established on the coasts {Odyssey, X, 30 ; Iliad, XVIII, 
207-213, XIX, 375-377), where faggots were burned on special watch- 
towers to produce the light necessary for safeguarding navigation. 
According to more recent investigations by Hennig, however, they have to 
be regarded as beacons for calling up reinforcements or as accidental 
fires. The question whether there were beacon-fires in the time of 
Homer — ^which can be solved only from philological data — does not 
appear to be sufficiently cleared up at present, but the assumption that 
beacons were used for assisting navigation in very ancient times seems 
quite natural, as the idea of indicating in this way the place of landing to 
sailors overtaken by darkness would very readily suggest itself. In the 
course of time these watch-towers grew higher and more magnificent. 
Some of them became world-renowned, such as the lighthouse which was 
built at Alexandria (299-280 b.c.) at the cost of 800 talents, equivalent to 
£180,000 ; it was constructed of white marble and had several stories, 
on the terraces of which people could easily walk about (Pliny, XXXVI, 
12, 83; Caesar, De hell. civ. Ill, 112 ; Lucan, Pharsalia, IX, 1004; 
Strabo, Geographica, XVII, i, 6). According to Hehnig’s thorough 
investigations, the lighthouse of Alexandria served first of all as a day- 
signal for navigation, and it was not till after a.d, 41 and before a.d. 65 
that the Romans turned it into a lighthouse. 

The same author regards the lighthouse of Ostia, dating from a.d. 42, 
as the oldest genuine lighthouse in the world. There are, however, only 
scant records in existence about thelighting-equipment of these old light- 
houses. But in all probability it consisted mostly of open fires burning 
in the air without a lantern. For instance, the Jewish author Josephus 


Fig. 324. — ^The Lighthouse of Alexandria (reconstructed) 



(a.d. 37-95) (5iog, VI, 105) says that on the lighthouse of Alexandria an 
open wood-fire was kept alight by specially appointed watchmen. Accord- 
ing to the same report of Josephus this fire could be seen at a distance of 
300 stadia (about 36 miles). The picture of such a fire showing the har- 
bour of Ostia and its lighthouse, constructed by the Emperor Claudius, 
near the mouth of the Tiber at Ostia, is 
still preserved in a relief. A high open 
flame is seen burningpn the top landing 
of the tower, built in several stories with 
terraces. Probably the fuel was of 
wood mixed or saturated with tar, resin 

Fig. 323.— The Lighthouse of 
Alexandria on an Alexandrian 

The illustration is regarded by Geitel and 
others as probably correct, at least as re- 
gards the exterior of the tower. Above, 
images of gods 

Fig. 326. — Roman Lighthouse : 
‘ Torre di Hercules ’ at Corunna 

The lighthouse is still in use. Fonnerly it 
had an outside spiral staircase, the traces 
of which are still to be seen in the 
masonry. It was probably erected in the 
reign of the Emperor Trajan, about a.d. loo 

or asphalt. The lighting power, however, of such open fires, whose light 
was collected neither by reflectors nor by lenses, can hardly have been 
as great as Josephus indicates above. Such luminosity can only be 
attained by modern methods, and even then only by intense sources 
of light ; and at the distance stated by Josephus it is not the source 
itself that can be seen but only the reflection of the flashes. 



The heating materials used in antiquity were wood, charcoal, coal, 
a kind of briquettes, and peat. The last three of these and also the dried 
reeds sometimes used were only of secondary importance. Briquettes, men- 
tioned by Theophrastus {De ign, 37), were used only for special technical 
purposes, particularly for working up metal, and were made by pressing 
together charcoal, pitch or tar serving as cement. Coal was not em- 
ployed at all in the countries on the Mediterranean. Like the closely- 


related lignite, it was burnt only in isolated places (where it happened to be 
found) such as the districts of the Ruhr and the Sarre, as well as in Great 
Britain. The same is the case with peat. It was entirely unknown to 
Southern peoples as fuel, and the Romans must have seen it in use for the 
first time when they came into contact with the Teutons. Thus Pliny 
reports of the Chauci on the coast of the North Sea that ' they weave nets 
with rushes from their swamps, the mud of which they form with their 
hands and dry it in the wind rather than the sun. They cook their food 
over a fire made of this mud and warm their limbs, stiffened with the cold 
of the North We shall therefore limit our discussion to the two most 
important kinds of fuels of antiquity, wood and charcoal. There is little 
to be said about wood: It was gathered wherever it was found. Whole 
forests were felled at random for obtaining fuel or for technical purposes 
without preparing a new supply by reafforestation. Even to-day we find 
traces of this abuse of forests customary among the Romans. A striking 
example is met with in the Karst Mountains. This vast expanse was once 
upon a time thickly covered with forests, but was completely ravaged by 
the Romans in order to provide fuel or wood for building ships and houses. 
After the mountain had been cleared the roots of the trees were no longer 
there to hold the earth together and so it was carried off by the wind or 
washed away by the rain. And at the present day this extensive tract of 
land, originally rich in forests, is nothing more than bleak and barren 
masses of rock. The method of felling and chopping trees has been dealt 
with above. (See the section on the Procuring of Wood.) 

In ancient times charcoal was probably an even more popular fuel than 
wood. It was already being used at the time of Homer, as is clearly 
proved by a passage in the Iliad (IX, 212) : 

' Then when tlie fire was burnt down and the flame waned 
He levelled the embers and laid the spits thereover.' 

The preparation of charcoal was a very important trade and the com- 
munity of charcoal-burners was very large and widespread. All kinds of 
wood were used for charring ; the less favoured were some species of oak 
and the box-tree, because they did not supply a good quality of charcoal. 
The process was carried out in the same way as to-day, namely in kilns. 
In order to exclude the air as much as possible from its interior, the kiln 
was piled up from layers of smooth logs, closely put together, with little 
space between them for the air. Then the kiln, which was hemispherical 
in form, was covered with earth and set on fire. During the process of 
charring, long poles were thrust into the kiln to secure an outlet for the 
smoke and fumes. It is not known whether the earlier kilns had a vertical 
channel in the centre, as was often the case in later times. Many kilns 
were piled up in a special way. They were furnished with a drain at the 
bottom in order to collect tar from the upper layers of wood by a process of 
dry distillation. In these upper layers the air supply was even more 
restricted than in ordinary kilns, so that no oxidation could take place. 
Wherever the faintest trace of such oxidation was observed, that is as a 


flame rising from the kiln, it was at once covered and choked with earth. 
For this purpose~as well as for w^atching the kiln-some ladders were 
kept in readiness near by. The tar, being unable to escape upwards, 
flowed down into a cavity and was collected there. It was then put into 
coppers and boiled, while vinegar was added in order to prepare ' Bruttian 
pitch ’ (Pliny, XVI, 52), a substance used for pitching casks. Pitch was 
also used for coating the inner side of wine amphorae, for tarring ships, and 
for painting the roofs in order to render them waterproof ; in short, it 
served in its original form fairly much the same purposes as to-day. For 
the rest, it was prepared not only in kilns but also in special furnaces 
probably similar to the ‘ muffle furnaces ’, from which they differed in one 
respect only ; they had no waste-pipe to allow the products of dry distil- 
lation to escape upwards, but, as mentioned earlier, they probably had a 
groove into which the tar flowed off. 


Of all the various fireplaces, i.e. places used for burning fuel, the hearth 
was the oldest and most widespread in antiquity. As is shown by pre- 
historic finds, it has developed as follows. The fire was a precious posses- 
sion needing great care and attention, for it could be rekindled only with 
great difficulty. In order to protect it from rain and particularly from 

Fig$. 327 and 328. — Olde.'St forms of the Hearth 
onsisting of a hole dug In the ground without a stone^ inlng. Found at Lobositz on the Elbe, 
t a similar kind with a lining of stones. Found at Platkow on the Oder. Deptli of (.-ach aboiii 
3 ft. Reproduced from models in the Deutsches Museum, Munich 

i.eft ; Fireplace co- 
ight : Fireplace of 

wind, a hole was dug in the ground at the point where the fire was made up. 
This hole is the oldest form of the hearth (Figs. 327, 328, 329) unless we 
give precedence to the fact that people frequently contented, themselves 
with protecting the fire by placing stones around it, an arrangement which 
also made it possible and convenient to roast certain kinds of food, such as 
meat (Fig. 330) . This kind of hearth, which lies on the ground, is still in 
use among savage tribes. As human civilization progressed, however. 


Fig. 329. — Hearth with Seat dug out of the ground 
The widening at the fire-hole (at the bottom of the picture) at the same time provides a seat, and 
origin of the human dwelling. Found at Grossgartach 


and Man gradually gave up Ms squatting position on the ground to assume 
a sitting or standing posture, the hearth was correspondingly elevated. 
Stones were piled up and the fire was kindled on top of them (Figs. 331, 
332) . This fundamental form of hearth is found in antiquity in numerous 
modifications. Sometimes it was a simple piece of masonry with a flat 
top on which the fire was burning, and sometimes it had a raised ledge or 

was merely a pile of stones gathered from the fields and held together 
by a framework of wooden rafters (Fig. 333). 

Just as varied as the forms of fire-places were the devices for supporting 
the kettle and other cooking vessels over the fire. Sometimes the hearth 
had a deep groove or pit for the fire. The vessels are either placed on the 
edge of the pit or on tripods, sometimes they are hung up on hooks ; or 
again, strangely shaped hollow stones of cubic or polygonal form with 
openings in the side or top are used. 

The pot for cooking is placed on the 
hole in the top and is warmed by the 
flames shooting from outside through 
the lateral holes up to the bottom of 
the pot. All the excavations have 
revealed one or other of these forms of 
fireplaces, and sometimes several 
varieties have been found together, as 
the case in the camp of Saalburg. 

All these fireplaces blackened the 
rooms in which they were situated with smoke, and the principal room 
in the Roman house, containing the hearth originally, received its name 
from the smoke [ater = black) and was called atrium. 

There were no chunneys, not even in Pompeii, although this has often 
been maintained erroneously. The baker's oven alone had pipes to lead 
away the fumes. Pipes for getting rid of the smoke came only with 
central heating. When people wished to prevent their dwellings from 
getting blackened they used as their fuel not wood but charcoal. 

Fig. 333.' — Hearth made of field- 
stones, held together by a frame of 

Fig. 332, — ^Hearth made of pilecl-up stones 
Found at Buob, Mark of Brandenburg. Markisches MUiseuin, Berlin 




However important a role the fireplace played in human life it had 
one great disadvantage : it was immovable. When it was needed for 
purposes other than cooking food, such as for heating a room, it failed 
when the habitation consisted of more than one room. For this reason it 
was replaced by a new device which no longer served the double purpose of 
heating and cooking, but was used for heating alone. This new article of 
furniture was the coal- pan or brazier. In antiquity it was widely used 
as a heating apparatus in many different forms : indeed, it was sometimes 
an object of great artistic merit. It has, however, the same disadvantage 
as the hearth : it allows parts of the waste- products of combustion to 
escape into the rooms, even if there are chimneys specially built 
for them. But apart from this the brazier must be regarded as a 
good method of heating, although the consensus of opinion is that its 
heating power must have been insufficient. Various facts contradict this 
view — in the first place, the statements of certain people, such as 
Winckelmann, who became acquainted with the braziers still customary in 
Southern countries, and spoke highly of their efficiency. Again, certain 
discoveries such as those made at the tepidarium of the men's baths in 
the forum of Pompeii prove that braziers of this kind were capable of 
heating very large rooms. And lastly it has been shown by Krell's 
thorough investigations that rooms of a considerable size can be heated 
with comparatively small braziers. KreU writes as follows : ' The brazier 
found in the tepidarium of the baths in the forum of Pompeii, standing in 
the place where it was originally used, has a heating surface of 7 ft. 8 in. 
by 2 ft. 8 in. It is quite sufficient even at the lowest winter temperature 
to heat a large church with a seating accommodation for over two thousand 
people, such as the Church of S. Egidius in Nuremberg.' Exhaustive 
researches have also been carried out as to whether the atmosphere of the 
rooms became polluted by the use of ancient braziers to a degree injurious 
to human health. The result may briefly be summarized as follows : 
The only gas produced in moderately warmed rooms is carbon dioxide. 
Carbon monoxide only develops at high temperatures, and the quantity 
increases with the rise in temperature. Starting from these facts, the first 
problem was to find out whether the content of carbon dioxide could 
increase to a dangerous limit. According to KreU, this question must be 
answered in the negative. Even if we assume that a bath-room with a 
volume of 450 cubic yards is to be heated from 0° C. to 60° C. with a supply of 
36,800 units of heat per hour from 11^2 lb. of coal having a heating power 
of 3,231 units of heat per pound, the air will contain only 2*3 per cent, of 
carbon dioxide if it is renewed once an hour. It is true that Pettenkofer 
formerly allowed a much smaller percentage of carbon dioxide in the air 
used for respiration (namely, one part by volume?%f carbon dioxide in 
1,000 parts by volume of air), but more recent research by Emmerich and 
Lehmann shows that the effect of a per cent, of carbon dioxide is not 
harmful even if this amount occasionally increases to as much as 6 per 



cent, or even 12 per cent. For the rest, the. difference of 60° in 
temperature as stated above is much too large. If normal conditions 
are taken as a basis it is shown that in a room of 336 cubic yards, for 
instance, the percentage of atmospheric carbon dioxide is 0-47 per cent. ; 
the effect of this amount on human health cannot be detrimental. In 
Krell’s opinion danger can arise only in very small rooms that have been 
tightly closed. The position is different, however, as regards carbon mon- 
oxide. It is true that Eckardt has been able to show the presence of only 
a trace of this gas in his experiments, which were made with a coal-pan 14 
in. long and 10 in. wide and a layer of charcoal to 6 in. thick. But the 
present author, while engaged on research on the history of poisoning by 
carbon monoxide, has been able to collect numerous reports of ancient 
authors themselves about the dangers of using such braziers owing to 
the possibility of their causing asphyxia. Among the ancient reports 
worth mentioning are those of Lucretius 1 (96-55 b.c.), Galen (131-200 
A.D.), Erasistratos (about 300 a.d.) and of the Emperor Julian the 
Apostate, who reigned from a.d. 361 to 363. It has been shown that, 
on the whole, ancient braziers could be regarded as harmless if the 

Figs. 334 and 335. — Chafing-Dishes of bronze for boiling water and keeping food hot 

Found at Pompeii 

layer of coal burned on them did not exceed a thickness of 6 in., 
and if the temperature was kept low. Considering the great popularity 
of these braziers the conclusion may be drawn that the ancients well 
knew how to manage them, that is, how to regulate the depth of 
coal and the temperature. On the other hand, it be concluded 
that the manifold accounts of poisoning by coal gas due to the use of 
braziers prove how dangerous they were when handled incorrectly. 

The coal-pan had, then, the advantage over the hearth that it could be 
removed from one room to another. But its disadvantage was that it did 
not allow food to be cooked on it. For this reason a contrivance was 
sought which combined those two amenities ; so a coal-pan was invented 
which enabled hot drinks such as the much-favoured mulled wine called 
calduni to be boiled on it, and also served to keep food warm. Braziers 
of this kind, on which food was heated by means of hot water, were found 
at Pompeii : they were very artistically executed, Overbeck describes 
them as follows : 

' Like other sorts of coal-pans they consist of a fire-grate or plate bordered by 
a rim, but tliis rim was double, closed at the top and formed into a groove around 
which water could run, It is obvious that the water in it was quickly warmed 
when the brazier was filled witli gldwiiig coals, and the food placed in dishes on 
the heated rim was thus kept wanU. . ^6 heat rising from the brazier may have 
contributed to the same purpose., ,At the same time the boiling water could be 

re/mm mtura, vi, 802, 


drawn from a tap and made use of. This contrivance is shown in all its simplicity 
in the drawing of Fig. 335, which shows a daintily adorned brazier, and that of 
Fig. 334, representing a slightly improved specimen. The latter resembles a little 
fortress crowned with battlements, a form which was particularly popular as an 
ornament for chafin g- dish es . In each of the four corners a crenellated turret rises up 
covered with a hinged lid. If a lid was opened, as seen on one of the turrets on 
the figure, a vessel with gravy could be placed directly into the hot water, or the 
water could be drawn from the tap seen on the left.' 

A still more remarkable contrivance was a brazier and hearth com- 

Fig. 336. — ^Perspective view and vertical section of a compound Brazier 
Found at Pompeii 

bined. In Fig. 336 one of these is shown in perspective and in cross- 
section. The plate for firing supports a semicircular coal-pan which is 
open in the front and has double walls containing 
hot water. Its upper edge is adorned with three 
swans on which is placed the kettle for boiling. 
Thus the coal fire simultaneously heats the water 
and the contents of the vessel carried by the swans. 
The heat is concentrated by the specially shaped 
coal-pan, to which there is easy access by the verti- 
cal aperture in the front. The semicircular boiler, 
which empties through a tap, communicates with 
a barrel-shaped container provided with a hinged 
lid and a spout in the form of a mask near the 
brim. This device made it possible to Warm a 
quantity of water even larger than that in the 
hollow walls of the semicircular boiler. The spout 
near the brim allows the steam to escape. Caldum, 
a mixture of wine, honey and water, is prepared 
in vessels provided with an internal bronze pipe. In 
mixture the bronze pipe is filled with live coals 

Fig. 337. — ^Vessel for 
preparing caldtm 
Spacft A contains the Equid. 
B is the bronze pipe filled 
with glowing coals. L and 
M, metal pipes oi the grate 
through whicli the liquid 
from A circulates. (See Fig. 
340.) Found at Pompeii 

order to boil the 


through a lid, A similar system, has recently come into use again in 
refrigerating machines. , Some of the glass vessels employed in these 
machines closely resemble the Pompeian containers. The pipe, how- 
ever, is no longer filled with glowing coal nowadays, but with icc. 


Fixed stoves were unknown to the ancients, but they turned the coal- 
pan into a kind of portable stove by closing in the fire on all sides, A stove 
of this description found at Pompeii consists of a metal cylinder with a 

stove hole and stands on three legs 
shaped like a lion's paws (Fig. 

338). A little over half-way up 
the metal cylinder there are two 
apertures masked with lions’ 
heads. They admit the supply of 
air necessary for maintaining the 
fire inside. ' Since the upper part 
of the stove contains a copper it 
is obvious that the apparatus was 
used both for ordinary heating 
and for boiling water. A model in 
the Deutsches Museum at Munich 
represents an ancient Greek 
portable stove the fragments of 
which were found in the sea. The original contained a plate pierced 
with hollows for the fire, that is, a kind of fire-grate, fixed in the upper 
part of the stove (Fig. 339), The lower section of the cylinder is 
pierced with numerous holes to ensure a sufficient supply of air for the 
coal-fire. It also serves as a receptacle for the ashes falling tlirough the 
grate. Technically speaking it was something intermediate between a 
brazier and a stove. 

A grate is also seen in a Pompeian kettle (Fig. 340) simultaneously 

Fig. 339. — Vertical section of an ancient 
Greek portable Stove 

Model in the Deutsches Museum, Munich 

Fig. 338. — Pompeian Portable Stove 

Fig, 341,— Germanic Stove with. Grate, dating from 
the La Ttoe period 
Foiind at Oberlalinstein 


used for boiling water and for heating. Since it was not furnished with a 
tap the water had to be scooped out with a ladle. A comparatively large 
surface was created for heating by giving the fire-box the shape of a vault. 
In front it had a stoke-hole, and at the back a small opening which allowed 
the fumes and gases to escape. It is 
particularly noteworthy that the bars 
of the grate consisted of pipes cooled 
by water flowing to and from the sur- 
rounding boiler. This arrangement pre- 
vented the bars from being burnt 
through, as often happens with ordin- 
ary grates. Grate bars of this kind are 
also found in the above-mentioned 
vessel used for preparing caUum (Fig. 
337) . The fire-funnel of this vessel is 
turned backwards and thus the caldim 
can be poured off without the coals fall- 
ing out. The ashes fall through the 
bars of the grate on to a tray which is 
supported by an artistic tripod. For the 
rest, the Germanic tribes seem to have 
known the grate before the Romans. 
In any case a stove (Fig. 341) has been 
found at Oberlahnstein cut in a deposit 
of clay. According to the reports of Dragendorff and Bodewig it dates 
from the La T6ne period (400-1 b.c.), ‘its walls being made of burnt 
material hard as brick. 

The vertical cylinder 
opens out towards the 
top like a chalice or 
cup. In its centre there 
is a pillar 22 in. high and 
14 to 16 in. thick with 
about ten arms at the 
top forming a kind of 
grate. The fire-hole is 
formed like the Roman 
praefurnia (see below). 

The numerous sherds 
found date from the 
late La Tene period. 

The large circular sur- 
face could take several 
vessels simultaneously 
and the stove thus did 
the service of a large kitchen range, and so was a great improvement 
on the earlier fireplaces and crudely-built hearths of stone so far dis- 


Fig. 340. — Kettle with cylindrical 
grate bars 

Found at Pompeii 




For the heating of large masses of water, such as for baths, peculiar 
contrivances were used of which those at Pompeii are particularly well 
preserved. The method of using them and their mode of action is still a 
controversial matter. We shall therefore first review the various con- 
flicting theories proposed before stating our own opinion, which was 
arrived at as a result of manifold studies carried out on the very spot. 
The question at issue is the construction of the boilers used for heating the 
water in the baths in the women's caldarium of the Stabian thermae at 
Pompeii (Fig. 342) . Jacobi says : ' The horizontal boiler, made of bronze 
plates about -3 in. thick, riveted together, is vaulted at the top and flat at the 
bottom, which is over the fire-room. Its height in the vertical section is 
22 in., its width 2 ft. 6 in., and its length 5 ft, 10 in. One end of the 
boiler is closed, the other opens into the front wall of the bath, which is 
nearly 16 ft. long, 6 ft. 5 in. wide, and just over 2 ft. deep. The flat 
bottom of the boiler lies 6 in. below the bottom of the bath, cau.siiig the 
water to circulate freely between the bath and the boiler.’ 

f f i»“ 

Fig, 342. — Boiler in the Caldarium of the ladies’ bath in the Stabian Thermae at Pompeii 
A, Bath. B, Boiler. D, Fire-room 

‘■"Both, Overbeck and Man as well as Jacobi,' says Krell, ‘ are of the 
opinion that the hot fumes produced by the burning fuel-pan pass under- 
neath the boiler and the stone bath and after that enter the hollow floor, 
walls and ceiling of the caldarium and tepidarium, and so heat them.’ 

The objection that Krell raises to these views is that an arrangement 
of this kind would necessarily have destroyed the basin of the bath, which 
was hned with White marble ; but it looks quite new even at the present 
time. In another connection he points out that no firing took place 
underneath the floor under consideration. Wliat was alleged to be a 
heating-plant, he says, was merely a contrivance for drying the rooms. 
Finally he maintains that the heating would have had to be started not 
less than twenty-four hours before bathing-time, if the water was to be 
warm. Krell's theory is that the boiler was heated simply by placing 
glowing charcoal in the fire-space below, that the air was sucked from 
underneath the bath and from between the walls into the fire-space in 
order to be dried, and that from this space it streamed into the adjacent 
fire of the main boiler, which was probably heated with wood. 

T.A.S , — 17 


We pass over sundry other systems of heating baths which are still 
under discussion, such as the method by which the bath in the Villa 
Rustica of Boscoreale near Pompeii is heated, and about which investi- 
gations are still proceeding. It is useless to quote the various hypotheses 
put forward, particularly as the study of the pictures is hardly likely to 
bring the solution of the problem nearer. It is altogether doubtful if the 
problem can be solved at all, since the excavators have in many cases 
thoroughly removed all the evidence. If a solution can be obtained at all 
it will be only, as we shall presently show, by means of an accurate 
chemical or microscopical investigation, such as has not yet been possible 
to the required degree. 


Ancient central-heating comprises all those contrivances in which one 
fireplace either served to heat several rooms at the same time or in view 
of its construction was capable of doing so, even if they were separated 
from the fire-room. The apparatus for heating will be treated here from 
the hitherto accepted point of view. It must be borne in mind, how- 
ever, that the problem involved has not yet been solved. The position is 
as follows : In many cases the rooms supposedly meant to be heated are 
built directly over a hollow space. Their floors are supported by columns 
made of bricks. The walls are also provided with hollow spaces which are 
obtained by placing together hollow tiles in such a way as to form channels. 
All these hollows and channels are in communication with the fire-room. 
Whereas the archaeologists not specially trained in technical science allege 
that all these constructions are forms of central-heating, Otto Krell, 
senior, a specialist in this branch of science, points out in his noteworthy 
descriptions that constructions of the above kind are by no means always 
apparatus for heating, and particularly not in the case of baths. He 
admits that there are contrivances of this type which may be claimed as 
instances of central-heating ; they are the so-called hypocausts, some of 
which are in an excellent state of preservation. As for many others, 
however, he contends that they cannot have been heated by a fire under- 
neath the floor, because the small columns supporting the floor were 
frequently made of limestone and plaster, a material which is by no means 
fire-proof. On the other hand, the floor on them is often of such thickness 
that it would have been entirely impenetrable to a fire kindled under- 
neath. Lastly, Krell remarks that one would expect to find traces of 
ashes, soot and the like. He therefore comes to the conclusion that the 
constructions in question are not examples of central-heating but simply 
means of drying the rooms above. The present author himself visited 
some such establishments at Rome, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Fiesole, at 
Saalburg, at Trfeves and Badenweiler and elsewhere, carefully examining 
separate items in various museums. 

These studies lead to the further remark that a fire kindled beneath a 
thick floor would often have caused it to crack. In view of the slow 
conduction of heat through such a thick floor there is reason to assume 



that the excessive heat on the one side and the cold on the other would 
necessarily have caused tensions in the masonry sufficient to make it 
crack or break. In addition, traces of carbon, soot and the like ought to 
have been found, as Krell rightly remarks. But the author has not 
been able to discover any such traces either ; nor does he feel that par- 
ticular importance is to be attached to this minor point. The excavators 
have generally endeavoured to set up the constructions as tidily as 
possible, and have therefore cleaned the places very thoroughly. If any 
traces of the above kind had existed at all they are sure to have been 
removed for good. It has often happened, indeed, in order to obtain 
as beautiful and clean a specimen as possible excavators took out 
the tiles, scraped and cleaned them with corrosives, and then built them 
up once more. On the strength of all these facts the author sums up his 
views as follows ; the construction in question is in all probability intended 
for drying, and in this respect reseml)les the modern system of double 
walls or isolating walls used for protecting buildings from the damp out- 
side. The air circulated between the double walls and so prevented the 
moisture from invading the main walls, or else led it out. The process 
of draining off the moisture may have been carried out by a fire to which 
the air was convected and made to circulate between the walls, as is the 
case with the .Stabian thermae mentioned above. 

In any case it would be unwise to reject Krell's views without further 
discussion, as has been done by Anthes, Brauweiler and others. Fusch, 
who also studied the problem in all its details, asserts that the hypocaust, 
originally used only for heating tubs, was subsequently also employed 
for central-heating in baths and villas. In order to attain absolute 
certainty, however, the present author maintains that chemical and 
microscopical investigations would have to be carried out to see whether 
there are any traces of charcoal-fires in the pores of the brilliantly polished 
tiles and stones. Substances to be claimed as traces of this kind would be 
particles of carbon and certain products of the distillation of wood, such 
as creosote, which are not liable to change. The author hopes soon to be 
able to give a report on exhaustive investigations carried out along these 


The system of central heating has been met with only among the 
Romans, and the oldest form of it is undoubtedly the method of heating 
by hypocausts, whose inventor is said to have been C. Sergius Grata. 
The term hypocaust seems first to occur in Statius [Sil. i, 5, 59) ; hypo- 
causis, a furnace, is found in Vitruvius, who describes this mode of 
heating in all details in connection with the construction of baths 
(V, 10) ; this description and its alleged defects have been thoroughly 
discussed by Krell. The hypocaust consists of a hollow space below the 
floor of the room to be heated, and in most cases extends the whole length 
and breadth of the room above. The floor lies some 3 ft. above the ground 
and is supported by brick pillars whose upper parts widen to a kind of 
capital. These capitals consist of projecting tiles the uppermost of which 

Fig. 345. — Praefurnium of an 
ancient Roman heating apparatus 

It lies in the open air outside the building. 
On the right and left of the stoke-hole are 
implements for heating and cleaning the fire- 
place. Found at Saalburg Castle 

Fig. 344.—- Hypocausts at Treves. The 
floor is of great thickness and rests upon 
brick pillars resembling capitals 

room also contain hollow spaces, which form as it were a continuation of 
the empty space below the floor. Hollow tiles {tubuU) of square cross- 
section were used for this purpose up to a height of 5 ft. above the 
floor or as high as the roof, in which case they provide an outlet for the 
smoke (Fig. 346). Instead of these, other tiles were sometimes used 
provided with bosses [teguke mammatae) and fixed to the walls with iron 


sometimes touch the corresponding tiles of the adjacent pillars. These 
tiles carry the actual floor (Figs. 343 and 344). The fire-chamber lies 
outside the building and communicates with the above hollow space 
through a channel which corresponds to the flue or snore-hole in modern 
industrial establishments for heating. In front of the fire-chamber there 

Fig. 343. — Hypocaust in the Roman theatre in Fiesole. The thicknes.s of the floor is 
striking and makes it doubtful whether it wa.s heated directly. (See page 258) 

is a kind of roofless ante-room also sunk into the ground and reached by a 
few steps. 

From this open room, called the praefurnium, the fire is kindled and kept 
up in the fire- chamber, and the daily supply of fuel is piled up here (Fig. 
345), The smoke and fumes, pass- 
ing through the hollow space under 
the floor, eventually escape through 
pipes in the sides. 

In many cases the walls of a 



clamps. Occasionally an opening closed with a plate is found in the floor. 
Through it the hot air contained in the hypocaust was allowed to enter 
the room after the flue had been closed and the fire had gone out. It is 
doubtful whether this opening was also used to enter the hypocaust 
below for purposes of cleaning or repairing, as is assumed by Jacobi 
(see the description of the hypocaust at Saalburg, given below) . 

If people did go down that way they must have been obliged to crawl 

FiCr. 346. — Details of construc- 
tion of the hypocau.sts and the 
channelled walls 
A, Pillars of ashlar tapering towards the 
niuUlle so as to form a passage for the 
waste giises of combustion. The lowest 
I)art of the floor consists of two layers of 
flat bricks. B, Pillars of cylindrical 
bricks. Lowest part of the floor is the 
same as in A. C, Brick pillars carrying 
a flwr the lowest part of which cotisists of 
a simple layer of large llat bricks. Tiles 
with bosses [kgiilae mammal u) are visible 
in the walls. D, Brick pillars each 
covered by a large, slab in order to counter- 
balance and uniformly distribute, the 
pressure of the floor above. The lower 
portion of the floor is made of a simple 
layer of large flat bricks and is supported 
by pillars whose capitals consist of a 
common projecting plate. Hooked tikss 
(iegulae hamatae) are seen in the walls. K, 
Pillars, each made of two convex or ridge 
tiles carrying a plate in order to extend the 
supported surface of the floor. F, The 
lower portion of the floor consists of 
reversed roof-tiles laid with the flat side 
downwards. Above on the right is shown a 
nail used for fastening the tegulae hamatae. 
A horisontal channel conducting hot air 
leads along the wall, underneath the floor, 
into the vertical tubuli-channels of the 
wall; an arrangement specially built for 
economizing the heat. G, Tubuli-pillars. 
The floor is a simple layer of large flat 
tiles. The walls are provided with tubuli 
whose lateral holes allow the heated air to 
spread. H, I, K, Systems of waste-pipes 
and chimneys, which can be distinguished 
by tlie fact that the waste-pipes show no 
traces of soot. The lower part of the 
floor in I and J is a double layer of flat 

between the pillars in a very uncomfortable position, the hypocaust being 
hardly 2 ft. 6 in. in height. 

The pipe connecting the fire- chamber and the hollow space under 
the floor was sometimes provided with lateral orifices admitting fresh 
air which mixed with the overheated air inside before it entered the 
rooms above through the openings in the floor. 

It is impossible to describe in all detail the numerous systems of 
hypocausts. Heating apparatus of this class have been found in the 
course of time in all the parts of the world once inhabited by Romans. 
At Treves, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Saalburg and many other places, 
a great number have been discovered. , The best preserved is in the last- 
mentioned place. It was excavated in the so-called ‘ civilian settle- 
ment ' in front of the porta decunmm. The author's photographs (Figs. 

The darkest spot of the picture is the mouth of the fire-chamber, the 
stoke-hole : 


347, 348, as well as a plan (Fig. 349) of this heating apparatus are seen 

below. Jacobi describes 
it as follows : — 

'The front space or 
praefurnium of the hypo - 
caust is sunk 2 ft. 8 in. 
in the ground and lies 
5 ft. from the building. 
It is 4 ft. 8 in. long and 
4 feet 4 in. wide. Two 
steps II in. high lead 
down to it. On the 
opposite side is the mouth 
of the plant, the stoke- 
hole some 14 in. high and 
8 in. wide (Fig. 349).’ 

' Behind the stoke-hole 
are two elliptical bulges 
shaped like baking-ovens. 
One of them lies outside 
the structure and is 
covered with large basalt 
stones and earth.' 

' In this space, the 
‘snore-hole,’ charcoal was 
set on fire. This arrangement proves that the Romans made 
efforts to protect the brick 
pillars from direct destruc- 
tive contact with the red 
heat radiating from the 
coal-fire. The hot gases 
alone were allowed to 
spread between them.' 

(Jacobi is wrong here, in 
the author's opinion, as 
this space is used in indus- 
trial establishments to 
increase and regulate the 
air supply for firing.) 

‘The bottom of the 
fire-chamber ascends from 
the stoke-hole to the flues 
on the opposite sides. 

The hypocaust proper con- 
sists of six rows of eight 

pillars 2 ft. 6 in. high. 348, — ^praefurnium of the hypocaust in Fig. 347 

The most remarkable of 
them are those stand- 

the Civilian Settlement 
near Saalburg 

oor IS very tliin here compared with the floors in Figs. 343 and 
Into the wall in the background is let a square tube which allows 
the fumes to escape 

ing in a group of nine at the north end marked m. They arc 
obviously made of pipes instead of bricks and are filled with fragments 
of brick and mortar. In order to make them equal in height to the 
others they have covers at top and bottom, also a few tiles added. The 
pillars, standing lo to 14 in. apart, are connected at the top by plates 
20 to 24 in. square, and 2 in. in thickness. Their surface is generally 
grooved in order to offer a firm grip to the plaster of the floor above, 
which is here 6 in. thick. The plaster covers the whole of the floor 
and has one hole {hi) 20 in. square to allow access to the hypocaust. 

Fig. 349- — ^Plan of the Hypocaust near Saalburg 

It is closed with a plate of sandstone which is lifted by a stick and a 
rope fastened to a hole in the centre. Obviously, the only purpose of 
this entrance was to allow the cleaning to be carried out and perhaps also 
to allow repairs to be made to the hypocaust. When the work was finished 
the plate was placed back into the hole, and closed all round with clay 
or mortar.' 

‘ A tube runs all the way round the hypocaust. It shows a different 
cross-section from that of the spaces between the pillars owing to the 
projecting base of the wall. Seven pipes (f) sheathed in tiles 'ascend 
from this tube. Five of them are 5I in. square ; the two in the back 


corners are, however, 5-| by loin. They rise out slightly above the floor, 
emitting the hot gases inside directly into the living room. The flue 
fg, in the wall, mentioned above, is divided by a tongue into two shafts. 
It is still extant about a yard in height, but it seems .to have continued 
through the wall upwards as far as the roof or even farther. It could 
hardly have been used as a proper chimney for the smoke, as six convex 
tiles (n) on the back wall served this purpose, since they are placed 
opposite the fire-hole. In the author’s opinion the double flue /g, 
provided with an orifice immediately above the floor, can only have been 
intended to ventilate the room, by sucking up foul air from the floor, 
or stale air if the room should become overheated. 

How much the hypocausts differed in size is seen from a comparison of 
those at Saalburg with those of the thermae at Treves. In the latter 
the praefurnium alone is over 8 ft. high and has the form of a long 
corridor holding the various fire-chambers. To what extent hypocausts 
served their purpose cannot be ascertained in spite of the minute cal- 
culations of Krell, who worked out their efficiency on the basis of the 
theory of modern technical science. He confined himself to special 
cases, whereas an accurate idea would be obtained only from compara- 
tive calculations on different types of hypocausts. Even then obstacles 
would be encountered. The number of such types, preserved sufficiently 
to safeguard against errors, is not sufficiently large. We do not know 
whether there was any relation between the fuel consumed and the size 
of the plant. Neither is the character of the fuel known, nor its heating 

Hypocausts seem to have afforded a great deal of comfort to the 
Romans, otherwise they would not have existed in every part of the 
Roman Empire, particularly in the better sort of dwelling-houses and 
in the villas of the rich. On the other hand, they must have entailed 
some inconveniences, judging from the fact that they fell entirely into 
disuse in the ninth century a.d., after they had been almost universally 
employed from before the beginning of the Christianera. The people of 
the Middle Ages made no use of them, although their own heating arrange- 
ments were by no means very efficient. For the time being the question 
as to the real value of the ancient hypocausts must therefore be left 
open, and it is very doubtful indeed whether it will ever be settled, 
unless new evidence is brought to light by further excavations. 


Another mode of heating adopted by the Romans was the one which 
involved the use of pipes, A pipe conducting the hot gases from the 
fire-chamber runs along the floor underneath the room intended to be 
heated. At the edge of the floor it rises vertically through the wall and 
serves as a flue or chimney (Fig. 350). In many systems it rises gently. 
Very often several pipes run across below the floor diagonally, their 
point of intersection being connected with the fire-chamber by a feeding- 
duct which leads the hot gases to the centre of the floor, whence they 



are distributed diagonally to the four corners (Figs. 351 and 352). An 
example of this system is found in one of the boundary towers of 
Saalburg Camp. In the two comers, opposite to the praefurnium, the 
orifices of the diagonal tubes are still seen, and in all probability the 
two other corners had similar outlets. 

The Roman system of heating by tubes must be regarded as rather 
wasteful and unpractical from a technical point of view, since the actual 
heating surface of the pipe was very small, the room above being heated 
only by the top surface of the pipe. All the rest of the heat, i.e. the heat 
radiated or emitted from the bottom or the sides of the tube, was lost, 
and therefore the calorific value of the fuel was exploited to only a very 
small degree. 

What the fuel used was like is just as little known as in the case 

Figs. 351 and 352.-~CrosS“Section I 

and ground-plan of the system of 
heating by pipes found in one of 
the boundary towers at Saalburg | 

of hypocausts. Jacobi maintains that it was charcoal, whereas Krell I 

assumes it might also have been ordinary wood. The present author ? 

made calculations starting from calorific value of the various kinds of J 

wood and charcoal, the size of the fire-chamber and some other points, 
but he did not succeed in clearing up the problem either. 

In Saalburg Camp some further contrivances for heating floors have 
been found. They are to be regarded as a combination of hypocausts and 
heating by pipes. Jacobi describes them (Fig. 353) in the following 
terms ; . . ■ ■ • ■ ' i 

‘ In the centre of the room to be heated is a space 6 ft. 7 in. square 
and 2 ft. 4 in. deep, abed (a hypocaust with pillars). The flue m runs 
into it and seven heating-pipes n-t radiate from it. Five of them, o,-p, 
q, r, s, continuing the flue in a forward direction, strike into the heating 
pipe ei, built in the wall, whereas the two receding pipes (n and/) end in 
the twm corners on the left and the right of the flue in vertical radiators 
(Ki) which finish on a level with the floor in front of the wall. The 
five tubes (o-s) undoubtedly continued upwards through the walls and 
led away the smoke. At the same time the thinness of their walls 
enabled them to heat the room quickly, 

' The fire was lighted through the fire-hole S, which is bordered with 
basalt. The pipes in the floor are merely covered with tiles and a thin 


coat of plaster. After the fire had gone out and the heat had accu- 
mulated in the central hypocaust {a~d) and the tubes % and the slides 
were removed from the radiators Ki, and the heat was admitted 
directly into the apartment. Cold fresh air was also allowed to enter 
either through the fire-hole specially opened for it or through the 
chimneys which had been vacated by the smoke in the meantime.’ 
Similar combined systems of heating are also found in various other 
Roman settlements. They have one advantage over the heating-pipes 

Fig. 353. — System of Hypocaust and Heating-pipes used in combination at Saalburg 

in that the heat from the bottom and the sides of the tubes is not altogether 
lost. It is partly absorbed by the air circulating in the tubes and trans- 
mitted to the room intended to be heated. A serious disadvantage, 
however, must have been incident to either system : the places above 
the tubes were bound to become heated to such a degree that eventually 
they could not be stepped upon. For this very reason, so far as we can 
see, all the better-class houses were provided with hypocausts. Though 
these were considerably dearer they had the great advantage of heating 
the whole of the floor uniformly and of allowing the temperature to be 


T he reasons why towns, that is, settlements on a somewhat large 
scale, were founded were necessity and expedience. And how 
very early the planning of towns was taken in hand may lx* 
gathered from the fact that in the year 4000 b.c. there were cities of 
gigantic size. The walls of Babylon enclosed an area twice as large as 
that of modern London, and some other ancient cities also assumed 
considerable dimensions. Their population may not have ranked with 
those of a modern metropolis, but they certainly equalled those of large 
modern provincial towns. Athens, for instance, at the zenith of its 
pro.sperity had .some 250,000 inhabitants, Jerusalem about 500,000, 
Carthage and Alexandria about 750,000, and Rome at least one and a 
half million. There are only a few cities to-day wliich surpass ancient 
Rome in this respect. We are therefore justified in talking of the great 
cities of antiquity, since cities of that size could have grown only on the 
basis of a highly developed technical art of town planning. 


Considering the general architectural design of ancient cities, we can 
divide them into two main groups ; the ‘ natural ' cities, which have 
grown organically, and the cities laid out according to a definite plan. 
The former arose through the gathering together of an indigenous popu- 
lation in a limited area. With a view to defending themselves against 
enemies or simplifying the exchange of commodities, people formed settle- 
ments which grew as the number of settlers increased. Everyone pleased 
himself in choosing a suitable site for his house. Consequently a clear 
premeditated plan is entirely lacking in this kind of town. The streets 
are narrow and crooked, running irregularly, in all directions. The 
second group of towns is laid out according to a systematic design. 
Usually they owe their existence to the will of some autocratic ruler, 
who ordered them to be built in a place apparently suitable for his pur- 
pose. vSo the ‘ city architect ' proceeds to make plans' according to 
which the town is to be laid out. The fact that the design for a fortifi- 
cation has been found on an alleged statue of Gudea of the year 3100 
B.c. conveys some idea of the age of town planning. A city built to a 
plan displays wide and straight streets, intersecting each other mostly at 
right angles, markets and other public squares, all laid out according 
to a definite scheme (see Fig. 365). 

In some instances a ‘ natural ’ town has changed to a town of the 
second kind. The old quarters in the centre exhibit all the characteristics 


of a natural settlement, whereas the later and outer parts show the traces 
of systematic planning. Athens and Rome both belong to the autoch- 
thonous or natural type. Heliopolis in Egypt, on the other hand, was 
built according to plan as early as 1400 b.c. But it seems that a planned 
town, the remains of which were excavated some time ago, was founded 
at Kahun near Lake Moeris even earlier, namely about 2000 b.c. In 
Italy town planning seems to have been started in the sixth century b.c. 
when the Etruscans built a regularly laid out city in the district of Marza- 
botto near Bologna.^ 

The oldest planned towns are found in Mesopotamia, as stated above. 
The question whether Babylon was laid out according to a plan may 
be left open. In any case the subsequent extensions were done strictly 

Fig. 354.^ — Plan of Babylon 

according to design, as is clearly seen from the following description 
given by Herodotus (I, 178-181)2: 

‘ Babylon was a city such as I will now describe. It lies in a great plain, and 
is in shape a square, each side an hundred and twenty furlongs in length ; thus 
four hundred and eighty furlongs make the complete circuit of the city. . . . 
Round it runs first a fosse deep and wide and full of water, and then a wall of fifty 
royal cubits thickness and two hundred cubits height. . . . They built first the 
border of the fosse and then the wall itself in the same fashion. On- the top, along 
the edges of the wall, they built houses, of a single chamber, facing each other, with 
space enough for the driving of a four-horse chariot. There are an hundred gates 
in the circle of the wall, all of bronze, Avith posts and lintels of the same. . . . 

' The city is divided into two parts ; for it is cut in half by a river named 
Euphrates, a wide, deep and swift river flowing from Armenia and issuing into the 

1 There is no reason to suppose that Marzabotto was the first Etruscan city 
to have a regular plan. — Trans. 

® From Godley's translation (Tho Lo^b Classical Library). 


Red Sea. The ends of the wall, then, on either side, are built quite down to the 
river ; there they turn, and hence a fence of baked bricks runs along each bank of 
the stream. The city itself is full of houses, three or four stories high ; and the 
ways which traverse it— those that run crosswise towards the river, and the rest — 
are all straight. Further, at the end of each road there was a gate in the riverside 
fence, one gate for each alley ; these gates also were of bronze, and these too 
opened on the river. These walls are the city’s outer armour ; within them there 
is another encircling wall, well-nigh as strong as the other, but narrower. In the 
midmost of one division of the city stands the royal palace, surrounded by a high 
and strong wall, and in the midmost of the other is still to this day the sacred 
enclosure of Zeus Belus, a square of two furlongs each way, with gates of bronze.’ 

A supplement to Herodotus’ description is given in graphic terms 
by Delitzsch : 

‘ Through a gate not very far from the south-east corner of the wall we enter the 
city proper. Turning to the left we follow a short but wide and apparently well-kept 
street lying in lonely solemnity. After that we cross the magnificent bridge built 
over the East canal of Babylon, the Bibil-chegalla (or chigalli), and turning to the 
right we make for the Euphrates and the vast expanse of houses, the city proper 
of Babylon, Lost in the maze of streets and alleys we feel bewildered, not owing 
to any haphazard arrangement of the streets, since they are all straight, both those 
leading to the Euphrates and the others, but owing to this very regularity, which 
makes it extremely difficult for a stranger to find his way among the long rows of three- 
or four-storied houses. The streets throb with the bustle and clamour of cit)^ life. 
But the commotion becomes livelier as we proceed along the straight thoroughfare 
until we pass one of those little brazen gates let in the brick wall at the end of each 
road. On the other side of the wall, which stretches along the river, a new sight 
no less lively is exposed to our gaze. The Euphrates flows along in sublime peace- 
fulness. Its banks are fiat, but at the behest of Nebuchadnezzar quays of an ex- 
traordinary height and width have been erected on either side of the stream,' 

These river-walls called quays have been rediscovered by Ker Porter 
in his excavations. They are 67 ft. high, and nearly 18 miles in length. 
The citadel mentioned by Herodotus stood on an artificial terrace. 
Artificial terraces are very frequently met with in Mesopotamia, 
having been greatly in favour with every potentate who was fond of 
display. What a tremendous amount of labour was required for build- 
ing such terraces has been made clear by Jones, who carried out 
calculations on two hills near Kujundschik. One of them holds six and 
a half million tons of earth, the other fourteen million tons. Taking 
into account the average labour done by one worker, we can calculate 
that one thousand workers would have required 54 years to build the 
smaller hill, and 120 years to build the larger one. It is improbable, how- 
ever, that the building operations lasted as long as that, human lives and 
labour being of little value at that time. If we assume the work to have 
lasted 10 years 5,400 people would have been necessary to cart the 
material for the one hill and 12,000 for the other. 

It has been mentioned above that ancient Egypt possessed syste- 
matically planned towns at a very early period. It is even likely that 
the Greeks were the pupils of the Egyptians and the Assyrians in this 
respect. To begin with they built their towns on the tops of hills with 
a view to safeguarding them against enemy attacks. Later on they 
settled on the coasts. In both cases their towns bore the characteristics 


of settlements built at random, that is, without any system. It was 
not till the age of Pericles (493-429 b.c,) that the site was divided up 
according to a definite plan. This is first seen in the Piraeus, the harbour- 
town, laid out in this way by Hippodamos of Miletus, known as the builder 
of several towns. Yet he can hardly be claimed as the inventor of this 
new idea. It is rather probable that he proceeded after Egyptian and 
particularly after Assyrian models. The advantages of the new method 
are clearly seen on a comparison of older Greek towns such as Gurnia in 
Crete with those built later like Soluntum in Sicily, which is also situated 
on a hill. 

Whereas Gurnia covers the hill with an irregular network of streets 
and narrow little alleys running into the crooked main streets and with 
stairs built to overcome the gradients, Soluntum, constructed a thousand 
years later, has parallel streets which lead up the slopes of the hill, and 
are crossed at right angles by a wide horizontal high-street. These 
changes are due to the authoritative example set by Hippodamos in 
the Piraeus. 

The plan is very closely adapted to the hilly configuration of the 
district. The main streets run perpendicularly to one of the two hills, 
the latter forming a natural termination to the system of streets. 
Similarly they lie parallel or at right angles to the quay of the harbour. 
Theatres, temples and other public edifices lean against the hill-sides or 
form a background to the view along the street, as is the case with the 
temple of Aphrodite. The naval port and the arsenal are shut off from 
the town, and the hills are included in the system of the fortifying walls. 

The streets are divided into main streets and by-streets, lying at 
right angles. They are all wide and enclose blocks of houses without 
any appearance of monotony. Temples, theatres and the castle 
are an'anged in such manner that they all enhance the beauty of 
the town viewed by anybody sailing into the harbour. The quay is 
adorned at one end by the temple of Zeus, and at the other by the temple 
of Aphrodite. The harmony of the aspect is completed by the temple 
of Pallas Athene. The theatre soars up above the town half-way up 
the hill which is crowned by the castle. The temples are placed in such 
a way as to form a termination of the streets. Looked at from the streets 
the temples always show the front and part of one side. Thus a certain 
rigidity which invariably accompanies a facade which closes a street at 
right angles is mitigated or totally avoided (Fig. 355). 

The plan of Priene, dating from the fourth century B.c., proves that 
a highly advanced art of building towns is capable of overcoming great 
difficulties. Here the conditions are so intricate that even a modern 
architect would find it very awkward to build a town there. From the 
plain of the Maeander the rock of the acropolis rises nearly 1,200 ft. A 
vast and rather steep declivity slopes down from its lower part into the 
plain. The problem was to construct a town in this very area. It was 
solved in this way. Parts of the slope were levelled off and made into 
terraces for the streets and houses. On the elevated artificial level 
resulting therefrom, six longitudinal streets are laid out, one of which 



is the main street and is 23 ft. wide. Like a brightly shining band it 
leads from the west gate in the town-waH directly eastward into the centre 
of the town, where it crosses the market ayoQa) (Fig. 356). In close 
proximity to the town- wall are the gymnasium, the shrine of Demeter and 
the stadium. The main part of the town lies on this, the lowest, terrace. 
Above it there is a smaller terrace with Pythos’ temple of Pallas Athene 
which dominates the prospect of the town. The difficulties of the ground 
made it necessary to support the temple by a high retaining wall. The 
sanctuary is flanked by a theatre, and surrounded by the streets of this 
upper part of the city, intersecting at right angles. This part has a 

market of its own. In the steep places of the slope, however, the 
streets are continued in their straight lines by stairs. But the latter 
are avoided iis far as possible. Rather, the streets are extended by 
landings so as to give them the benefit of height. Lastly a staircase 
cut in the rock leads several hundred yards high to the acropolis, which 
stands on a rock rising almost vertically above the city. It must be 
admitted that in this very instance of Priene the ancient art of building 
towns has scored one of its greatest triumphs. All the obstructions of 
the region were overcome without any deviation from the plan drawn 
after the model of Hippodamos, 

In towns lying on the coast streets are usually made to run parallel 



to the line of the shore. Alexandria, for instance, begun and finished 
in 331 B.c. after the plan of Deinokrates, has seven streets parallel to 
the coast and eleven crossing them at right angles each 23 ft. in width. 
The two main streets were some 46 ft. wide. The island of Pharos with 

the famous lighthouse (see p. 246) was connected with the city by the 
Heptastadion, that is, a huge mole 7 stadia or 4,247 ft. in length. 
The longest street, the Canopic, was not less than 3I miles long. 

Huge artificial terraces, so popular in Mesopotamia, were not less 
in vogue among the Greeks. They were either made by collecting 



together or by carting off earth. If necessary, powerful supporting- 
walls were built to resist the pressure of the earth behind and the thrust 
of the buildings standing on the terraces. The finest example of the 
art of building terraces among the ancient Greeks is probably found 
at Pergamon, which was mainly constructed under Eumenes 11 (197- 
159 B.C.). The steep slopes of the hill carrying the castle betray no 
influence of Hippodamos, but they have three long-drawn terraces whose 
dimensions and technical perfection command our admiration even 
to-day. The lowest of them was 40 to 47 ft. high and was supported by 
a wall On it stood the gymnasium and some massive round towers 

Fig. 357. — Plan of Alexandria 

I leaning against the breast -walls and the buttresses of the following upper 

terrace. A special staircase of forty steps, vaulted over, led to the ‘ Gym- 
: nasium of the epheboi\ standing on the imposing middle terrace where 

I large halls, rooms, temples, and other buildings were also found. The 

i gymnasium on the third or highest terrace comprised a kind of theatre, 

some halls, bath-rooms and such like. The weight of all these buildings 
rising on three successive terraces must have been immense, and yet the 
I structure of these breast-waUs did not come loose under this load nor 

I under the pressure of the masses of earth and rock inside as long as the 

i town existed. (A diagram of this system of terraces is given in the left- 

? hand part of the plan showing the aqueduct of Pergamon, Fig. 573.) 


The Roman methods of building towns was partly based on ancient 
I traditions, and partly influenced by the example of Hippodamos, and 

i T.A.S.— -18 



again they were determined by the fact that some towns arose out of 
former Roman fortifications, the castra or camps. The ancient tra- 
dition is chiefly evident in the choice of the site. The preference was 
given to hills or the junction of two vaUeys forming a promontory upon 
which the town. was built. The number of ancient Roman towns situated 
on hills is very large. Towns of the second kind, facing two valleys, are 

Tarquinii and Volt erra as 
well as Coblence, Settle- 
ments sprung from Roman 
camps still show to a cer- 
tain extent the original 
plan of the camp in the 
arrangement of the inner 
quarters and of the streets 
leading from them. In- 
stances are Aosta, Turin, 
Treves, Cologne, Spalato, 
Timgad, and Lambaesis 
(Figs. 358-360). 

But the grouping of 
streets customary in Ro- 
man camps is also found 
in other kinds of towns, 
and may therefore be re- 
garded as the criterion of 
the Roman town. As a 
rule both the town and 
the camp have two main 
thoroughfares crossing at 
right angles in the centre 
and dividing the settle- 
ment into four quarters. 
One of these main streets 
was the high-street proper, 
the via principalis. The 
gates standing at its ends 
were called the porta 
principalis dextra and the porta principalis sinistra. The via 
decimiana or simply the decumanus, the main street cutting the via 
principalis at right angles, ended in the porta decumana and at the 
other end in a gate called in camps the porta praetoria. The main sti'eets 
were usually marked out according to the four cardinal points, but not 
with particular accuracy, the directions in which the sun rose and set 
being ascertained only approximately. For the rest, certain super- 
stitions caused the system to appear turned round in the course of time, 
so that the North-south street, the via principalis, often became the 
West-east street. Moreover, strategic considerations led to the porta 
praetoria being turned towards the enemy. Details of this kind vary in 

Fig. 358. — Plan of Timgad : a typical example of 
a Roman town derived from a camp 


the dii'ferent cases, but on the whole the ground-plan of a ivonian town 
is a quadrilateral, mostly an oblong, crossed perpendicularly by two 
intersecting streets. 

According to Merckel, the planning of a town was partly based on 

technical considerations and partly on superstitions and Etruscan tradi- 
tions. In founding a town or standing camp the rampart was marked 
out first of all. A plough drawn by two white beasts of different sex 
was then led along the trace of the future ditch of the town in such a 




way as to turn the sods to the inner side. These sods formed the ])egin” 
ning of the fortification, the rampart. The fathers of the future town 
always walked round to the left as they accompanied or led the plough. 
Walking to the right would have brought ill-luck to the toviui. On the 
sites of the town-gates no furrow was drawn, the plough was lifted from 
the ground and carried over the spaces reserved for the future gates. 
Very often the corners of the town-walls are not pointed but rounded 
off, the reason of this perhaps being that the plough was not capable 
of drawing a sharp-pointed angle, but had to be led at the corner from 
one direction into the other through a curve. It has already been 
mentioned that the cardinal points were observed.’ 

After all the border-lines had been drawn and the boundary stones 
been set with all kinds of ceremonies, which we peiss over here since they 
are irrelevant to the art of town planning proper, a map of the future 
town was drawn. The length and width of the various streets were 
measured off, the territory of the town outside the walls was accurately 
drafted, and the whole plan engraved in bronze or marble. The tablet 
was then fixed and exhibited in a public place where it could be examined 
at any time. A second drawing made on canvas was sent to Rome and 
kept there in a special archive corresponding to a modern land-registry 
office. The maps were elucidated by notes written on wax tablets. 
They contained the names of the individual land-owners, the numbers 
of their holdings, which were often distributed by drawing lots, and other 
such data. 

The original system followed in planning is still discernible in some 
towns like Cologne and Treves (Figs. 359 and 360), Whereas the 
Roman provincial towns may thus be called ‘ modem ’ in a certain 
sense, things were different with autochthonous towns, which were in a 
very bad condition even at a later time. Rome above all others is an 
example. A graphic description of it is given by Friedlander : 

‘ When the regal period drew to a close Rome still looked like a country town of 
to-day in spite of its great extent, which was marked out by the course of the Ser- 
vian wall. Agricultural work and cattle-rearing were still done in the interior of the 
city. The houses were built entirely of wood and clay, and covered with 
a thatched roof. People walked in clouds of dust on the unpaved roads when it 
was summer, and in filth when it was winter. 

‘ The defects in the later design of the city were attributed by the ancients to the 
fact tliat the reconstruction after the burning by the Gauls in 390 b.c. was carried 
out roughly and witiiouta plan. The. quarters were laid out irregularly, the streets 
were narrow and crooked, and in many places the houses stood crowded togctlier. 
Tiled roofs came into use very slowly, shingles being used for a covering as late as 
the war with the King Pyrrhus (2S4 B.c,), a fact which bears to Italy's 
former wealth in forests, which was ruthlessly squandered at a later time when the 
houses in Rome were time and again burnt down and rebuilt many stories high of 
timber framework. The paving of streets was started much later. At the same time 
the city little by little changed its rural aspect. For example, before the year 
310 B.c. the wooden stalls of the butchens in the Forum gave way to the banking 
premises of the money-lenders; but the general progress towards betmty took 
place so slowly and sporadically that aven in 174 b.c. a party Jiostile to Rome at the 

1 All relevant passages are collected by Thulin, Die, eirusMsche Dkeiplin, iii, 
p. 3, et seqq. 


court of King Philip of Macedonia found cause to scoff at the ugly appearance of 
Italy’s capital which excelled neither in public buildings nor in private residences. 
Really handsome houses had only begun to be erected a short time previously. ’ 

In Spite of the fact that most magnificent and palatial buildings 
were constructed in Rome from the time of Sulla, the general course of 
the streets remained unaltered, and even Augustus, who undertook the 
architectural reorganization of the Roman capital, was unable to remove 
this defect. The disadvantages of such an arrangement of streets were 
clearly recognized. In the reign of Tiberius people complained that the 
houses were so high and the spaces between them so narrow that there was 
no protection against fire and that it was impossible to escape in any 
direction in case a house collapsed. The Neronian fire of a.d. 64 owed its 
vast extent entirely to these shortcomings. Even later on, after the 
burnt-out quarters had been rebuilt and the lower parts'of the houses had 
been made of fire-proof material such as Alban and Gabinian stone, 
peperino and sperone, the original drawbacks of irregular growth 
continued and made themselves felt in an unheard-of increase in the 
value of the land. As a consequence of this, people were compelled to 
extend their houses by adding to their height, as is the case in large 
cities to-day. According to the account of Juvenal, there were windows 
in Rome at such a height that objects down below in the streets were 
seen as though through a mist ; and Pliny thought that no other city 
in the world could compare in size with Rome if the height of her houses 
was taken into consideration as well as her area and circumference. 
That her houses were higher than those of an average large modern 
city is shown in a comparative list by Friedlander. ' Whereas the building 
regulations of Berlin of the year i860 allow fa9ades only 40 ft. in height 
on streets of the same width, and higher ones only on streets which are 
proportionately wider, the by-laws of Vienna fix the maximum height 
at 50 ft., or allow four stories, and those of Paris at 70 ft. on roads of the 
same width, the Emperor Augustus decreed that the front of the houses 
in Rome should not exceed a height of 70 Roman (about 67 English) 
feet, i.e. six or seven stories, while Trajan is alleged to have limited them 
to 60 (= 58) feet, i.e. five or six stories. But these decrees could hardly 
have been observed strictly and did not affect the rear part of the houses, 
which undoubtedly often surpassed the height prescribed for the fronts. 
Martial writes of a poor wretch who had to ascend 200 steps to reach 
his bedroom. Conditions were aggravated by the fact that the maximum 
height was allowed on any street regardless of its width. In this respect 
Rome was far behind any modern city. In Berlin the average width of 
the streets comes out at 73 ft., whereas it was only 17 to 21 ft. for the 
Roman main roads; this is less than the narrowest width (26 ft.) allowed 
in the Paris regulations of to-day, for which fa9ades not exceeding 40 ft. 
are permitted. A road even as lively' and busy as the Vicus Tuscus, 
owing to its shops, was only 15 ft. from side to side of its pavement, and 
the Vicus lugarius only 18 ft. If the houses of Tyre, according to 
Strabo’s account, were even higher than those in Rome, it must be 
attributed to its position on a narrow island rock.’ 



The later roads of Rome were laid out according to plan and were 
therefore long and straight. The differences between the various 
qnarter.s are clearly visible in a plan engraved on a marble tablet, frag- 
ments of which are preserved in the Capitoline collections. It dates 
from the third century a.d. and shows how crooked and repeatedly 
broken roads alternate with straight ones more recently laid down. 

As has been mentioned above, in the planning of a town strategic 
considerations came first and they were followed by the demands of 
commerce and tradition. Although in general these factors remained 
in force it was recognized later on that other points had also to be taken 
into account. The doctrines of Hippodamos, the essence of which is 
handed down to us by Aristotle (384-322 B.c.) and perhaps added to by 
him, also became the guiding principle for Rome, According to Aris- 
totle one factor was of vital importance in town planning : that the 
place of the future town should have fresh air and a sufficient supply 
of good water. It should face towards the north and west as much as 
possible in order to admit the winds which were .supposed to be refre.shing 
when blowing from these directions. In addition, the site should meet 
all strategic requirements and facilitate the construction of protective 
ramparts as well as put the enemy at a di.sad vantage. Even the form 
of government should be taken into account. A town with one acropolis 
was thought to be suitable for a monarchy or oligarchy, a town in a 
flat district for a democracy, and a town with several citadels for an 
aristocratic state. 

Similar views are put forward by Vitnivius (I, 4) ; 

' In setting out the walls of a city, the choice of a healthy situation is of the 
first importance ; it should be on high ground, neither subject to fogs nor rains ; 
its aspects should be neither violently hot nor intensely cold, but temperate in 
both respects. The neighbourhood of a marshy place must be avoided, for in such 
a site the morning air, uniting with the fogs that rise in. the neighbourhood, will 
reach the city with the rising sun ; and these fogs and mists, charged with the 
exhalation of the marshy animals, will diffuse unwholesome effluvia over the bodies 
of the inhabitants, and render the place pestilent. A city on the sea-side, exposed 
to the south or west, will be insalubrious ; for in summer mornings, a city thus 
placed would be hot, at noon it would be scorched. A city also with a western 
aspect would even at sunrise be warm, at noon hot, or in the evening of a burning 

Further, Vitruvius advises against choosing those districts which 
emit foul vapours in hot weather. But harm is also done to the human 
body, in his opinion, by the cool moisture in the air and in winds. If the 
town walls stand in swamps running parallel to but situated a little 
above the sea and running in a northerly or north-easterly direction, they 
have probably been built so intentionally. By digging trenches the 
water can be drained off to the sea, and at high water the surf of the 
sea is dashed into the swamps, and with its salt kills the harmful creatures 
that are apt to occur in swampy regions. 

For this reason Vitruvius considers themunicipal settlements of Altinum 
(near Venice), Ravenna and Aquileiaas ‘ incredibly healthy ’. When the 
* From Gwilt*s translation. 

28 o town planning 

swamps j however, stagnate and have no outlets either by way of rivers 
or drains, as is the case with the Pontine marshes, they will putrefy and 
produce unhealthy vapours. This is why the ancient Apulian town 
of Salapia was shifted by M. Hostilius, who founded a new Salapia in a 
healthy district with the permission of the Roman Senate and people. 
He connected the adjacent lake with the sea so that the former served 
as a harbour to the new settlement. ‘ This is why the Salapians now 
reside in a healthy area 4,000 paces away from their old city.' The 
reports of Vitruvius, which, by the way, are so utterly redundant and 
diffuse that we can repeat only the main substance, show that technical 
and hygienic considerations played a very important role in the choice 
of the site for a new town. 

Before the ancients started building a town they found it necessary 
to provide adequate protection against enemy attacks in order to be able 
to carry on building operations undisturbed. The site having been 
marked out in the manner above described, the next step consisted in 
fortifying the place by erecting walls and towers. 



O PEN settlements were comparatively rare in antiquity. It may, 
indeed, be asserted that during many periods and among many 
peoples they were the exception. It is true that, later on, 
houses were built outside the town walls in many places such as Pompeii 
or Saalburg, but they were connected with the settlement inside in such 
a way that their occupants could easily retreat in cases of emergency 
into the area protected by the fortifications. In order to be safe from 
the enemy preference was usually given to an elevated place for the 
settlement in order that the approaching hordes might be easily observed 
and fought against from above. As has been said at the end of the last 
chapter, the area chosen for settling was in most cases enclosed by the 

fortification proper before the dwellings were built. The oldest and 
simplest sort of fortification was a sort of parapet consisting of a 
dike of thrown-up earth. These earthworks as well as the modifications 
later derived from them varied considerably according to the nature 
of the ground, for even in their earliest stages the fortifications were 
built so that certain topographical features were turned to advantage. 
Labour was economized, for example, by using as a natural stronghold 
the bed or the winding of a river or the mouth of a tributary ; all that 
was necessary then was to throw up straight or only slightly curved 
ramparts on the remaining side. , Sometimes, however, the bank-fence 
was drawn right round the settlement or built in close proximity to it 
in the shape of a ring. In this case it served simply as a retreat {reftigmm ) . 
These enveloping earthworks were circular, oval or even rectangular in 
outline. The method of building them was very simple. The trees of 
the neighbouring regions were uprooted, and the area inside the future 

Fig. 363. — ^The lower wall of the same Bank-fence 

the Other hand, many settlem^ts have two ditches. Very often the 
tools for making ramparts were extremely primitive, consisting merely 
of a hoe, which rendered the task of construction very tedious. Fre- 
quently also the quantity of loose earth was insufficient, and therefore 
the ramparts were often madepf ordinary stones piled up on top of one 
another and probably held together originally by wooden rafters. Walls 

rampart was levelled. The ramparts themselves consisted of piled-up 
earth, and at a very early date were mixed with stones in order to make 
them firmer. 

On throwing up the earth a ditch was naturally formed, but is by 


no means found with all the ramparts now. Sometimes the rampart 
was made of earth thrown up from inside and outside without a ditch 
being dug, and in this way a sunken plateau was formed inside, whereas 
the ground outside merged naturally into the surrounding region. On 

Fig. 362. — Bank-fence on the Altkonig (Taunus Mountains). The upper of 
two walls 


of this kind often enclose an extensive area, as in the case of tiic Altlcfaiig 
in the 'I'aunus Mountains, which is encircled not by one row init by several 
rows of walls. Enormous quantities of stones were piled up to form a 
huge dike many miles in circumference. The amount of lal)our spent 
on it excites our wonder even at the present day. 

At a very early date palisades were used for the. constniction of 
encircling walls. The paling could easily be made of trees felled and 
dragged aside, and thus it is quite natural that wood should liave been 
used for fortifications. During the Celtic period wood also served to 
construct a kind of timber-frame in large walls which were built witlibut 
mortar {mums Gallicus alternis tmbihus ac saxis). This method of 
strengthening ramparts was subsequently taken over by the Romans 
and used in constructing the Limes, the large boundary dike built in 
upper Germania against the Teutons. 

Technical peculiarities are seen in several such works. Both tlie 

Fig. 364. — Vitrified Wall at Plauen in Voigtland 

Heidenmauer on the Odilian Mountain and Frankenburg Castle near 
Schlettstadt, which date from the La Tbne period (400 B.c. to the year 
of our Lord) consist of huge square blocks of sandstone connected by 
dovetailed dowels. These dowels have not, however, been preserved. A 
curious feature is seen in the so-called ' Glasburgen' (glass forts), specimens 
of which have been found chiefly in Bohemia and Scotland. Mdiereas the 
so-called fired walls (‘ Brandwalle ’) were only partly glazed by the action 
of strong fires, the walls of a Glasburg were vitrified all over, and thus 
became one coherent mass (Fig. 364). As regards the method of pro- 
ducing Glasburgen many theories have been proposed. It seems rather 
doubtful whether the process of vitrification was done on purpose. It 
is more probable that it occurred accidentally when a wall of .stone, wood 
and earth was exposed to fire, a theory which is corroborated by the fact 
that the remains of charcoal or ash have frequently been found near a 
‘ Glasburg For the rest, the structures and plans of vitrified walls, 
such as the wall at Plauen in Voigtland, agree in all details with 
Celtic walls, described by Caesar {Ve hello gallico, VII, 23). 




In the course of time the circular walls developed into the ramparts 
of real fortifications. This took place at a comparatively late period among 
many peoples, for example the Greeks of Asia Minor . As late as the sixth 
century b.c., walls, particularly vertical walls, are met with very rarely. 
For example, the Wall of Heracles [Iliad, VII, 327-347,435-441) was in all 
likelihood nothing more than a dike strengthened by a wall. Other walls 
in the district around Troy will be dealt with more exhaustively later on. 
In Mesopotamia, on the other hand, fortifications build from very well- 
thought-out plans were constructed at an earlier date, as is manifested by 
the design of an ancient Babylonian fortress dating from about 3100 b.c. 
(Fig. 365). From this we notice that a gate let into the wall is defended 
by projecting towers, and that its approach becomes narrower towards 
the inside so as to force its assailants to crowd together in front of it. 
Penned up in this position the invaders formed a good target for the 
missiles of the defenders on the flanking towers. The placing of such 
towers on salients arranged in an echelon, and the erection of other towers 
on the long front walls, the way in which corners were turned to account, 
and many other details, bear testimony to the high standard of this early 
art of fortification. The excavations at Nippur, south-east of Babylon, 
prove that at that period the inhabitants of Mesopotamia had already 
progressed from earth-dikes to proper ramparts, the first of which was 
built during the earliest pre-Semitic period (before 4000 B.c.). On this 
rampart King Naram-Sin (about 3750 b.c.) erected a high wall of the 
flat bricks wliich are typical of his time. The shops of the merchants 
were built into the wall on the inside ; further buildings were added 
later. The great gate with the three entrances was let into the wall : the 
central entrance, which was large and low-lying, was for the animals ; on 
each side there was a smaller raised entrance for foot-passengets with steps 
leading up to them. A particularly good adaptation to the conditions 
of the environment is exhibited by the fortifications of Kujundschik. 
These fortifications had a kind of tower-like forts raised on the hills 
which lay in front of the city-wall. Behind them stood the rampart, the 
ditches and two. other walls, one of which was as high as the outer main 
wall. Diodorus says that the walls ^ were 300 ft. high and wide enough 
for six chariots to drive side by side on the top. The inner walls 
were built of stone and brick, whereas the outer ones seem to have con- 
sisted of earth, loose pebbles and large stones. The latter were taken 
from the ditches which at the expense of tremendous efforts were hewn 
out of the solid conglomerate rock. The excavations have shown the 
substructure of the walls to be of stone with a superstructure of sun-dried 
bricks. The upper edge of the stone wall was ornamented by cornices. 
In some places the wall extended to the river, which formed a natural 
moat filled with water. Where this arrangement was impossible, the 
wall was protected by a canal which was supplied with water from the 
river. On the north side the canal was made to pass into a deep ditch. 

1 Sc„ of Babylon, not Nippur. The reference is to Diod. Sic. ii, 7, 3 seqq, — Trans. 


The art (jf fortifying reached a particularly high stage in iigypl ; tliis 
is to be expected since this country is entirely flat and unaidecl by Nature 
in its defence against the inroads of enemies. Therefore, not only \v('re 
isolated towns fortified, but all along the frontiers a number of strong- 
liokls were built, some of which were called ‘ walls of the king’. Of 
others mention is made in the hieroglyphics, which state that they stcxid 
against the ‘ gates of the barbarians h As far as possible the plan of 
these forts was adapted to the configuration of the country, -A long valley 
extends from the eastern part of the Delta of the Nile far into the middle' 
of the country. From 
this valley hostile hordes 
could easily penetrate into 
the interior. This danger 
was obviated by strong 
fortifications headed by a 
wide canal which drew 
its water from some 
neighbouring lakes. A 
bridge was raised across 
the canal and its head 
was suiTounded by several 
forts which, were perma- 
nently occupied by troops. 

In the south of the king- 
dom strongholds were 
likewise built in places important from a strategic point of view, advan- 
tage being taken of the peculiarities of the landscape. An Egyptian 
king, probably Usertesen III ^ (about 2300 b.c.) according to Lepsius, 
had a huge fortress built near Semneh in Nubia, where the Nile breaks 
through a wall of rocks. It was con.structed of bricks and pro- 
vided with ditches, earthworks and walls. Opposite the river stood 
a high wall which, by virtue of its position on the river and its 
height, could be regarded as safe from all assaults. The wall was 
continued inland, and it followed the undulations of the land to 
such an extent that its height varied from 50 ft. on rising ground 
to 83 ft. in depressions. At the bottom it was 26 to 30 ft. thick and at 
the top some 13 ft. The upper part had a deep slope to prevent its being 
scaled with ladders. The ladder could not be propped against the upper 
slope. If it was placed on the lower edge the scalers found it impossible 
to proceed from the top rung of the ladder on to the steeply ascending 
slope. The wall was strengthened by twelve or thirteen buttresses which 
were about 7 ft. thick and projected like bastions. Every corner had a 
double tower from which missiles could be hurled upon the approaching 
enemy. The ditch in front of the wall had the extraordinary width of 
100 to 130 ft. Its embankments were faced with carefully polished 
stones intended to make the assailants lose their footing on them- and to 
slip into the ditch, the edge of which was also faced with stones. The 
glacis bordering the ditch was paved in a similar way. On it the defenders 
* m; Senwosri. 

l''iG. 365.-- -Plan ().f a:i ancient Babylonian fortress 
(From a statue of the King tiiulca.) About 3100 n.c. 


awaited the onslaught of the enemy, as is still done in the case of modern 
fortresses. In war time the walls were especially equipped. Their 
pinnacles were furnished with timber frames, conning-towers and pro- 
jecting scaffolds. On them the defenders took their positions and hurled 
stones and other missiles, or when the invaders came near enough, poured 
boiling oil over them. The fortresses in Syria may have been constructed 
in a similar way. In any case conclusions to this effect may be drawn 
from the mural paintings in the Ramesseum depicting the conquest of 
the country by Ramses II about 1300 b.c. It cannot be ascertained, 
however, whether the Egyptian artist who painted these battles had seen 
the fortresses himself or had copied Egyptian models. That the Scythians 
had similar fortifications is more or less proved by the paintings at 
Thebes bearing witness both to their capture by Ramses II and to the 
fact that the conditions of the ground were turned to account. The 
Scythian fortification was surrounded by a double ditch filled with water 
from a neighbouring river and crossed by two bridges. In front of the 
ditch and the bridges the defenders stood on what appeared to be a kind of 
glacis which was also within the range of arrows shot from the towers. 
The towers were higher than the walls, in order to enable the defenders 
to continue fighting the assailants who had stormed the wall and to oust 
them from the battlements. 


The art of fortification reached a particularly high stage among the 
Greeks, Here the earth- dike had also originally been the customary 
mode of fortifying a place. For instance, the wall of the camp at Troy 
built by the Greeks near the sea-shore was made of earth strengthened 
by tree- trunks and stones which were driven into it {Iliad, XII, 28, 29). 
In front of it there was a deep ditch {Iliad, VII, 327-347, 435-441). 
The wall was provided with towers through which or beside which gates 
led into the camp {Iliad, XII, 35, 36 ; VII, 338, 339). The wall and 
towers had battlements {mdl^eig) rising from the wall like steps {xQoaaai). 
The wall was strengthened by buttresses {aTfjIai 7 tQ 0 ^?^ 7 jreg), probably 
a kind of beams or planking supported by rafters which were intended 
to prevent the earthwork from sliding. A particular passage often 
mentioned in the Iliad (IX, 67, 87 ; XII, 64-66, 145 ; XVIII, 25, 228 ; 
XX, 49) ran between the wall and the ditch.’ In it the Greeks used to 
sit and cook their meals. The passage and the wall were cut off from the 
ditch and protected by palisades rammed into the elevated side of the 
ditch (Schliemann). The Iliad contains a description, not only of the 
Greek wall, giving full particulars, but also of the Trojan wall, the technical 
details of which have, moreover, been exposed by Schliemann's excava- 
tions. According to the Iliad (XXII, 3, 145 ; XVI, 700) this wall had 
parapets and towers and was easily accessible in one place only {Iliad, 
VI, 435-437) • Although Schliemann's excavations have shown that 
the different towns of Troy had different kinds of walls, the wall of the 
third town on the whole conveys a clear idea of the Trojan art of fortifica- 


lion. It is characteristic, for instance, that the. Cyclopean wall of the 
second town rests on the revetment made of smaller stones which belonged 
to the first town. It probably also served as retaining- wall to the hill. 
The w'all of the first town (A in Fig. 366) was built exactly like the walls 
of the houses of the first or lowest town, namely in such a way that the 
joints of two stones were overlaid by a third stone. The wall of the 
second town, the Cyclopean wall (B in Fig. 366), consists of large blocks 
connected up by small stones. A further wall was afterwards discovered 
which was made of large blocks cemented together with clay. 

On the strength of all his 
excavations and r e s e a r c h e s 
Schliemann makes the following 
statements about the seconcl 
wall (B) : 

‘ It is 20 ft. high, 6| ft. thick, 
and is built in so-called Cyclopean 
masonry, i.e., in regular layers of 
large aitd rough .square block.s of 
limestone joined together by small 

Fig. 367. — The larger inner and outer 
Walls of Troy 

stones. Its vertex lies exactly 34 ft. below the surface of the ground. As is 
shown by the .strata of debris running in a slanting direction underneath, it was 
originally constructed on the steep slope of a hill. A large quantity of similar 
blocks lying beside the wall seem to indicate that it used to be considerably higher. 
When I first laid it bare at the end of July 1872 it was much longer. In February 
1873 I partly cleared it away in order to uncover the curious revetment A de- 
scribed above. It stands under the wall B at an angle of 45” and is 6 ft, high ; 
it served originally as retaining wall to an isolated sand-mound which seems to 
be 20 ft, high with its ridge lying 20 ft. below the surface of the hill. It is fairly 
certain that the revetment belonged to the first town, as I have explained above. 

‘ The large inner wall marked a in Fig. 367 and r in Fig. 368 must in all prob- 
ability be ascribed to the inhabitants of the second town. It also consists of 
large stone blocks and leads south at an angle of 45°. But it is only the south 
.side that consists of solid masonry. On the north .side it is built of stone not more 
than four or five courses deep, and is here supported by a wide dike (r) of loosc 
.stones and debris, the same material which was used for the greater part of the 
interior of the wall. Directly south of this large wall there stands another of the 
same size {cd in Fig. 367 and b in Fig. 368) which was obviously built by the tliird. 
generation of settlers. It will be discussed below. The large inner wall runs east- 
ward for some distance and then diminishes in width, becoming a wall some ft. 
high, 6 ft. wide at the top and 12 ft. at the bottom. Finally it abruptly turns to 
the north-north-west. It is made of solid stone. Its builders did not take the 
trouble to clear the earth from the rocky ground, for the wall stands on a layer of 
earth which covers the rock to a deptii of 2 ft. The inhabitants of the second 
town seem to have built the gate too, and the paved road which runs south-west 

Fig. 366, — ^The Walls of Troy (front view) 
Wall B belongs to the second town. The loaning posi- 
tion of the layers of stones seems due to a subsidence of 
the soil. Wall A is older, being that of the first town. 
It is a breast-wall for strengthening the slope of the hill 
and at the same time a revetment for the wall B 


Finally, llie wall of the third town reveals the features of a most 
singular construction. To the new settlers the wall (marked c in Fig. 
368) did Jiot seem to be a sufficient protection, for it could easily be 
ascended, its angle of slope being only 45°. For this reason, in the very 
front of it, the large wall 6 was built facing towards the south at an angle 
of 15°, but perpendicular to the wall c on the north side. Thus, between 
the two walls a large triangular space emerged which was filled up with 
earth completely free from debris, as is proved by the excavations. 
Like wall c, the second wall b does not consist of solid masonry, but of 
two walls standing some 7 ft. apart. That which faces south slopes up 
at an angle of 75°. The space between the two walls of b was filled with 
loose stones. As a revetment for these stones the southern wall would 
hardly have been able to resist the tremendous pressure in a vertical 
position ; this accounts for its slope. Both walls are made of small 
stones cemented with loam, and apparently contain not a single hewui 
block. The stones were placed with the fiat side outwards in order to 
make the face of the wall as smooth as po.ssible. The crest of wall b as 
well as that of wall c was topped with larger stones. Since the walls b and 
c were equal in height, a wide platform was obtained by filling the .space 
between them with earth. The further part of wall b is constructed 
merely of a few courses of large blocks of stone placed on the debris of 
the second town. Upon these blocks brick walls were raised. As they 
appeared too weak, however, for this weight, a kind of clay cake was 
placed between them ; the use of this clay cake for making walls was 
peculiar to the builders of the third town of Troy. It is true that it also 
occurs in the first two towns, but it does not form a part of the construc- 
tional system. The reason which led the Trojans to employ these clay 
cakes is discu.ssed by Burnouf as follows : 

‘ The new settler.s started by levelling the debris over the ruins of the second 
town. They filled up the hollows and cavities with stones and other material such 
as ash or clay, and in order to consolidate the ground they laid clay cakes (gaieties) 
into the interstices,’ 

As regards the brick wall standing on clay cakes Burnouf gives the 
following information : 

' In A (Fig. 369) there are sixteen courses of brick cemented togetlier with a 
material wliich was prepared from crushed bricks. These courses extend almost 
up to the Hellenic wall (C). They are inclined outwards. The layer of clay 
cake (B) on which they rest is some 6 ft. thick. It is separated from it by a layer 
of blocks of limestone. B lies upon the large wall D which encircles the citadel. 
At a later period the town spread over the area covered by the debris wliich had 
been thi-own over the walls. R designates one of these accumulations of debris ; 
it contains a layer of black ashes N, M is the wall of a house which, leans 
against the Hellenic wall C.' 

On the north side the brick wall does not rest on a stone wall but on a 
course of large stone plates. It consists of two parallel walls with the 
intervening space filled with broken bricks. But it also shows traces 
of white plaster. 

The Iliad mentions a watch-tower (XXII, 145), and another 
T.A.S. — 19 


tower (XVI, 700), which proves that in the art of fortification a dis- 
tinction between watch-towers proper and towers belonging strictly to 
the defence system was drawn at a very early date. The ordinary 
watch-towers did not project beyond the wall, either in ancient or in 

mediaeval fortification. The 
towers, however, which joined 
part of the fortification, did 
project and so enabled the 
defenders to cover the walls 
and the ditch in front with 
arrows or other missiles. 
The distances between these 
towers varied between 165 and 
330 ft. according to the range 
of the weapons and ballistae 
used. Sometimes the towers 
stand out at right angles from 
the ‘ curtain’, i.e. the wall 
between them, and sometimes 
their sides form a kind of 
nook with the curtain so that 
one edge is turned towards 
•the assailants. This arrange- 
ment renders the climbing of the curtain more difficult, and for this 
reason the tower is often placed in an angle of the curtain, or the cur- 
tain is built on a broken line between the towers. Instead of the 
above-mentioned funnel-shaped gate entrance between two flanking 
towers, as was customary in Mesopotamia (see page 284), hexagonal 
towers came into use later on for flanking the gates ; by this arrange- 
ment the same result was achieved. Round towers were comparatively 
rare, though they occurred in isolated cases such as at Messene. 


Particular care was bestowed on the entrance gate of fortifications. 
Apart from strong flanking towers (Fig. 370) special salients were built 
with the wall for hiding the gates. This gate was approached by a road 
which was protected in many ways. For instance, it turned at a sharp 
angle and caused stoppages amongst the advancing assailants or exposed 
portions of itself to the missiles of the defenders. Or, again, it helped the 
defenders to reach the area in front of the fortress without being wounded 
during a sally. Inside the gate there is often a yard closed towards the 
town by a second gate. In this yard the troops were drawn up, inspected, 
relieved or assembled for sallies ; or the enemy who had managed to 
enter through the outer gate could be checked and prevented from advanc- 
ing further by shutting the inner gate and could under certain circum- 
stances be annihilated. Specimens of particularly weU-built gates are 
found in the citadels of Tiryns and Mycenae. The walls of Tiryns contain 

Fig. 369. — The Brick Wall of Troy -WThich rests 
on clay cakes 



stone blocks 6 to 10 ft. in length, 3 ft. wide and 3 to 6 ft. thick. The 
weight of some pieces amounts to 20 tons. The walls are not sloping but 
rise vertically to an imposing height. The main wall of 'I'iryns runs 
round a liill which is some 330 ft. wide and about 1,000 ft. long, and falls 
into three sections. On 
the highest of them 
stood the old royal 
palace. The mi d d 1 e 

section contained the 
dwellings of vassals and 
servants, and the lowest 
part constituted the town 
proper. The walls of 
the various sectio.ns w’ere 
very different in thick- 
ness. Whereas some are 
only 23 to 26 ft. thick, 
others are not less than 
53 ft. thick. The ramp 
forming the ascent to 

the citadel is constructed with Jjrojecting flanking Towers 

ill such a W^ay that a Reconstruction of palate of Sargon 

man approaching the 

gate held his left hand, wdiich carried the shield, on the other side. 
The right hand was turned towai-ds the wall of the citadel. In this way 
he was from the outset rendered defenceless on account of his position, 
for he was unable to protect himself with the shield on the w^all side and to 
throw javelins or other missiles upwards. The gate had a width of 6 to 
10 ft. and could be locked by a sliding bolt, the grooves of which may still 
be seen in the wall. The gate was no folding-gate hut a swing-gate, as is 

seen from the traces left 
in the threshold and the 
ruined lintel. It was pro- 
vided with pivots forming 
the continuation of the 
longitudinal axle and 
swung round in pans 
lying in the middle of the 
threshold and the lintel. 
When the door was open 
one half was turned in- 
wards and the other 
outwards. An enemy, unfamiliar with this peculiarity, who pressed 
against both halves of the gate thus kept them steady by his own act, and 
was thus stopped and exposed to missiles from the wall for a longer time. 
Behind the gate there was an additional defence, a passage protected by 

A w'ell-fortified tower contained a cistern, which was of vital importance 

Fig. 371, — Fortification of the citadel at Tiryns 

Fig, 375. — Gate at Messcne (restored) 

on vertical posts. Later on, a further expedient was discovered for 
relieving the strain on the lintel and preventing its collapse. According 
to Reber, whose account we are following, the ‘ Lion Gate ’ at Mycenae 
is a classical instance of the new method of procedure. An aperture, a 
sort of upper doorway, was made above the lintel with both sides narrow- 
ing towards the top, so that the weight over the gate was reduced. Thus 


from a distance requiring too much time, the superstructure of .Tliemis- 
locles’ wall was made of clay tiles. The construction of tlu' gate's also 
shows that they were planned with ^eat care, and in some cases a fair 
amount of technical knowledge is manifested. The gattis of fortirK.'atif)ns 
reached a particularly high degree of 
technical development because some 
parts had to support excessively heavy 
loads as a consequence of the material 
used. The most primitive gates were 
constructed in the following w'ay. The 
lintel was simply placed across the top 
of the jambs and then the rectangle 
f ormed by these parts and the threshold 
was let directly into the wall. In order 
to obtain a large-sized gate the lintel had 
to be made of greater width ; it thus 
became heavier, consequently demand- 
ing a greater bearing power in the 
jambs. This difficulty was overcome 
by placing the jambs obliquely, that 
is by making the doorway narrow^er towards the lintel. The result 
was that the width of the gate at the top and with it the lintel 
were kept small even with a wide opening at the bottom. A narrow 
lintel was less liable to break under pressure than a wide one lying 

I’Ki. 374 , — 'J'Ik* Liol) Gate of Mycenae 



the lintel was no longer pressed down by the weight of the superincumbent 
wall, and a free opening was formed which was either triangular, quadri- 
lateral or polygonal, and was either left vacant — as in the gate of Messene 
— or filled with some lighter masonry embellished by plastic ornaments 
as in the case of the Lion Gate at Mycenae. 

Fig. 376. — Gate at Missolonghi Fig. 377, — Gate of Thorikos 

If we now imagine a gate of the kind just described with an upper 
aperture but with the lintel and jambs removed we should have a form 
of gate such as is actually found in ancient fortifications, for example, in 

Fig. 378. — Gate of Phigalia Fig. 37Q. — Gate at Samos 

Messene (Fig. 375). The wall itself forms the perpendicular sides of the 
entrance, which is triangular at the top. If the sloping parts on each side 
are slightly curved, they form a gate with a pointed arch, such as the gate 
of Ephesus. If the sides slope up all the way from the threshold they will 
form a regular triangular gate (as at Missolonghi, Fig. 376). And if they 
are curved, in addition, the gate will be a simple pointed arch like the 
gate of Thorikos (Fig. 377). If the sides of the entrance are vertical at 
the bottom but slant towards the top, space is left for the insertion of a 
lintel, which, however, can be of only small dimensions. (Cf. the gates 



of Phigalia, Fig. 378, and of Amphissa.) Again, the corbelling blocks of 
the sides may be oblique, as is seen in the gates of Samos (Fig. 379), 
Abae and Samothrace. A useful method of relieving the lintel, applied, 
for example, in pyramids and other Egyptian works of architecture, was 
as follows. The lintel was cut in two beforehand, and the two pieces 
were leaned against each other with their lower ends standing on buttresses 
or on the wall where it bounds the gate. In this way the pressure of 
the masonry above the lintel was transferred from the two halves of the 
lintel to the buttresses or the lateral parts of the wall, as is often the case 
with bridges. An example of this construction is found in the gate at 


In general the fortifications of the Romans are very mucli like those 
of the Greeks. Sometimes they exhibit ancient Greek peculiarities so 
distinctly that their origin is beyond all doubt. The fortified camp 
on the Bay of Verudella near Pola, for instance, recalls the above- 
described fortifications of Tiryns and Mycenae, as regards its plan and 
the construction of its entrance (Fig, 380). 

Fig. 380. — The Fortified Camp on the Bay of Verudella 

Anthes describes it in the following terms : 

‘ A retaining wall, made of blocks and quarry stone without mortar, wa.«3 con- 
structed round the summit of the hill, and the intervening space was filled up. A 
fortified plateau 100 paces in diameter and 165 ft. above sea-level was thus obtained. 
Parallel to the wall, and at a distance of 10 to 20 ft., there runs a terre-pleine which 
varies in width from 60 to 180 ft,, and is bordered on the outer side against the 
declivity of the hill by another rampart made of stone. The approach to the camp 
lies along the north side of a ridge which gives the fort a land connection with other 
ranges of hills. Near the camp this road is continuously flanked on both sides by 
walls, and thus a defile is created which is the only mode of access of the assailants 
to the weak parts of the plateau. Immediately after meeting the rampart tangen- 
tially the road runs for more than 300 ft. along a kind of bulwark which compels 
tlie attackers to expose their right sides to the defenders.' 

Even in Vitruvius’ description of the construction of walls and towers 
(1, 5) practically nothing is found which suggests features distinctive from 
those of Mesopotamian, Egyptian or Greek fortifications. Vitruvius, too, 
maintains that the entrance should have a position which compels the 


enemy to turn outwards the side which is covered by his shield. He 
vetoes building towns either as plain quadrangles or with three- 
cornered salients, but advises that the latter should be curved, 'to give 
a view of the enemy from many points. Defence is difficult where there 
are salient angles because angles protect the enemy rather than the 
inhabitants,' Vitruvius seems to be trying to explain a traditional 
peculiarity of Roman fortifications, the origin of which we attempted 
to make clear above (page 277), but he is not convincing, for the salient 
is still to be found in fortifications of the later Middle Ages and of the 
following centuries. Further, it seems more expedient to avoid the angle 
by constructing a tower rather than by rounding it off. Besides, in many 
Roman fortifications the rounded corner is protected by being sloped or 
by specially constructed outer works placed in front of it (for example, the 
fort of Niederbieber, in the ‘ Novus vicus ’ at Heddernheim). Vitruvius 
recommends round or polygonal towers, the square ones being more 
easily destroyed because the impulsive blows of the battering rams break 
the corners, ‘ but in the case of round towers they can do no harm, being 

Fig, 381. — Ground-plan of the town-walls of Pompeii 

engaged, as it were, in driving wedges to the centre There are many 
Roman walls still extant which show how accurately the theories of 
Vitruvius or the earlier traditions derived from the ancient East by way 
of Greece were followed. Vitruvius maintains that the strongest walls 
were obtained by making the ditches around the site of the future works 
as deep and wide as possible, and that- the earth thrown up in this way 
should be heaped up as a rampart between an inner and an outer wall. If 
the rampart were then battered down sufficiently hard to stand by itself it 
would be, he says, practically impregnable to battering rams, mines or 
any other contrivances, even if a breach should be made in the outer walls. 
All the important features of Vitruvius’ statement are found in the 
fortification at Pompeii, apart from the outer ditch, which is missing 
probably because it was levelled out later on, when Pompeii was made an 
open city. As to its walls, Overbeck says : 

‘ If we examine their ground-plan we find the rampart or agger h, raised between 
the outer wall or escarp a and the inner wall or counterscarp c, both of which are 
supported by strong buttresses which stand on the inner side. In addition to the 
ordinary buttresses d, projecting towards the inner side of the agger, the counter- 



scarp has some larger ones {d*) catching into the agger at certain intervals, possibly 
in order to strengthen it. The outer wall does not rise vertically on the outside, 
but slopes inwards, becoming nearly 2 ft. narrower towards the top. The outer 


the interior view and the small ground-plan (Figs. 383 and 384), these embrasures 
have the form of a carpenter’s square and project perpendicularly inwards 
for a distance of 3 ft. 2 in. : they are at the same height as the parapet. In 
this way they formed a stone shield on both sides for the soldier behind, who 
had only to move to the loophole on the right for a moment in order to throw 
his javelin. He could at once resume his place of shelter behind the breastwork, 
from where he had an uninterrupted view of the assailants. The inner wall rises 
some 18 ft. above the plateau and increases the total average height to about 43 ft., 
sufficient to ward off any missiles thrown by ballistae or other machines.’ 

the construction of the towers in the walls, ample informa- 

387-389. — ^The three Stories of the tower on the wall of Pompeii 
(which may be closed by a portcxillis) ; b, ascending corridors leading to the first floor ; V and b", stairs 
to the second floor or terrace ; c, c, loop-holes ; d, doors opening on to the rampart (cf., Fig, 386) 

tion can be gathered from Figs. 385 to 389, Special care was taken by the 
Romans in constructing the gateways, the upper parts of which, especially 
in later times, were almost always arched. They often have several 
entrances and sometimes attain to the standard of monumental works of 
art. The arch itself seems to have been taken over from the East, where 
it had been used in ancient times in the shape of arched roofings over 

Fig. 390. — Porta Nigra at Tr^sves. (View from within) 

street crossings {tetmpyla). Many of these arches allow themselves to 
be crossed in all four directions {quadnfons)^ The Roman fortified gate- 
way reaches the highest stage of elaboration when it develops into a kind 
of stronghold. A striking example of this type is the ‘ porta nigra ’ of 
Treves (Figs. 390, 391). The ground-floor has no windows. The same 
is the case with the small square watch-towers standing at equal intervals 
on the limes, the Roman boundary wall in Germania. The lower parts, 






-E.oman Watch-tower on the 

Model ia Saalburg 


which were exposed to the assailants, are merely bare walls devoid of any 

Fig. 391. — As Fig. 390. View from the outside 

weak points of which the enemy might have taken advantage (Figs. 392 
and 393). Over the ditch (now 
vanished) in front of iYitporta nigra 
a bridge led to two circularly 
arched entrances. The assailant 
approaching them was very much 
exposed to missiles projected from 
the double rows of windows above 
and the three-storied flanking 
towers. It, having succeeded, 
however, in capturing the bridge 
and the strongly bolted gates, 
and in forcing the portcullis 
behind, he rushed through the 
gateway in the delusion of having 
the city in his hands, destruction 
lay in wait for him. He entered 
a courtyard which led into the 
city and which had its inner 
gates bolted and barred. On to 
this space the windows of the 
fortified gateway also opened, 
from which the defender dis- 
patched his javelins {pila) in 
large numbers. Trfeves has yet 
another peculiarity of the Roman 
art of fortification to show; 

The amphitheatre, the place of pleasure and merriment, was built 


into the system of encircling walls in such a way as to make it also a 
means of defence. The wall was not led around the amphitheatre but 

MMPP, Roman town-wall. P, Pillars. M, arches 

made to bridge its northern entrances and then drawn in a regular 
curve around the long arc of the elliptical arena in the west, i.e. 

Fig. 394. — Porta Herculanea at Pompeii 

The gateway in the middle has the form of a double gate ; when the enemy had penetrated into the inner court, 
it could be shut off by a portcullis and doors from the by-ways intended for pedestrians and could be commanded 
from the ramparts 

around the side nearer the city. The foundations of the arena were 
laid in a hill which had been artificially raised to hold the tiers. Before 



the wall reaches the south side of the arena it turns to the right and 
resumes its original north-south direction. The idea of this arrangement 
is clear. The deeply sunk arena lay in front of the wall and formed a 
huge moat, a kind of pitfall, in which the enemy who had penetrated 
into it could effectively be pelted with missiles (Fig. 393). 

There are also fortified gateways in various parts of Pompeii, of which 
a particularly good example is the Porta Herculanea (cf. Fig. 394). 

Fig. 395. — Ground-plan of the Gamp at Saalburg 

The ditch of the original camp, as wdl as the double ditches in front of the ramparts, the via sagiilaris, and other 
details, are clearly visible 

The camps or castra, in spite of their varying sizes and their stereo- 
typed oblong form with rounded corners, exhibit all the above character- 
istics of the ancient Roman art of fortifying (Figs. 395-400). The out- 
side consists of a strong crenellated wall, as is clearly seen at Saal- 
burg. The crenellations are built in the form of niches, as in Pompeii. 
A paved road, the via sagularis (Fig. 397) ran round the camp along the 
inner side of the terre-pleine. In front of the rampart there is a path about 
3 ft. wide similar to that of Troy, with two ditches in front, having the 
characteristic wedge-shape of Roman ditches. Farther outside there is 
another rampart. The camp had the two familiar main cross-roads of 
Rornan settlements and four gates with rounded arches, of which the 


porta decumana was developed as a double gate (Figs. 398 and 399 )* 
The gates are flanked by low towers, and the ditches in their vicinity are 
partly interrupted and partly bridged over. There are no lateral and no 
corner towers. The double ditch and also the limes, which was 335 
miles long, was fortified with stakes, each being separately rammed down 
by a hammer, after it had been pointed and charred or tipped with iron 

to protect it from putrefaction. The stakes, about as thick as a 
man’s arm, were driven in some 3 ft. deep, and then connected up by 
a hurdle-work of rods of a finger’s breadth. This wall of fascines was 
strengthened on the inside by strong supports. Afterwards a 3 ft. 
deep ditch was dug at a distance of about 18 in. and the earth thrown 
against the hurdle-work to give it great power of resistance. In 
order to protect the soldiers working in the ditch in close proximity 
to the enemy, sheds were built, and platforms for the archers raised 
within the inner circle of the fortification. It was not till this ditch 
was finished that the rampart was begun. It was made of earth, turf and 
stones held together by three rows of rough stakes connected by cross- 



beams, as is exemplified at Saalburg. A wooden wall was 

Fig. 397. — ^Gateway of Saalburg Camp {porfa sinistra) 
Interior view. On the left, niches of embrasures, and the via sagularis 

built, consisting of stakes, the gaps between which were blocked up with 

Exterior view showing the 
bridge, double ditch, wall 
with orenellations. 


two parallel walls, each. 2 ft. 8 in, thick, were erected, and the space 
between them filled with earth. In order to make them safe from the 

Fig. 400. — Parallel triangular Ditch with Wall (Saalburg) 

outward pressure of the earth they were held together by rafters. A 
terre-pleine of hurdle-work was arranged on the scarp, and finally the 

Der romische Limes in Germanien 
roit Angahe derKasteUe n.einiger Strassen. 



Fig. 401. — ^The Roman Limes in Germania, with the attached camps 

stone wall (since reconstructed) was raised and the ditch doubled, but 
not filled with water. Tt was intended only to check the advancing 
enemy and to throw him into disorder. _ 


T he streets and squares were laid out more or less in the same way 
in all the cities of antiquity. In most cases there was one 
ornamental street or more, usually paved. These branched off 
into a system of by-streets, which were paved less carefully or not at all. 
The origin of pavements is lost in the obscurity of prehistoric times. 
Wherever we come across towns, whether in Babylon, Egypt or Greece, 
we find pavements. Besides paving proper there was a sort of macadam : 
the ballast — that is, the small broken stones — ^was battered down into 
a base. When the ballast had become reduced to powder by the traffic, 
it was covered with a fresh layer. It may thus be rightly maintained 
that almost every kind of pavement known to-day was used in antiquity 
except perhaps wood-pavements, for even asphalt was used to pave the 
sidewalks at Pompeii. The stone-paving might be slabs or cobbles. 

The ancients also knew how to level irregularities in the surface of the 
streets by filling rubble and sand into the depressions and stamping it in 
wherever necessary. They also knew how to camber the road-surface 
to allow the water to flow off to the sides. As in the case of fortifications, 
the art of road-making was highly developed in the East and in Asia 
Minor, whence it spread to all parts of the world. This is proved not 
only by excavations at Babylon, Nineveh and other places, but also by 
investigations made at Palmyra which, according to legend, was founded 
by Solomon and used to be the capital of the Syrian province Palmyrene. 
The magnificent gateway (Fig. 402) which stands to this day at the head 
of the long colonnade has a triangular ground-plan ; this proves that 
even ancient builders knew how to utilize corners to produce monu- 
mental effects. The gate joins the famous colonnade that consists 
of four avenues of columns : this form of street is often met with in 
antiquity ; for example, in Alexandria, Antioch, Seleucia, Ephesus and 
Gerasa. The Greek colonnade was imitated by the Romans, as at Timgad, 
Lambaesis, Dugga and Tebessa. The colonnade of Palmyra (Fig. 403) 
consisted of a 37 ft. wide causeway for vehicles and two 18 ft. wide 
covered sidewalks for pedestrians. It was about a mile in length and 
had 1,500 columns, each of which was some 57 ft. high. The highly 
perfected art of cutting stones is still shown by a column 37 ft. high which 
consists of a single block of blue speckled granite. According to a theory, 
the truth of which is often doubted, a gallery extended over the side-walks 
from which the lively coming and going in the street below could be 

A model of this kind was bound to give a new impetus to road-making. 
T.A.s. — 20 305 

3o6 town streets AND SQUARES 

But this holds good only for the ornamental main streets (Fig. 405) ; it 
did not affect the by-streets, which were, on the whole, left with their dreary 

Fig, 402. — Ornamental Gate at Palmyra 

appearance, as the private houses in them had only few or no windows 
towards the street and practically no architectural pretensions. But in 
general we know very little of them. The best examples of ordinary 


thoroughfares in ancient towns have been preserved in Pompeii. In that 
city the facades of the houses have some ornamentation even in by-streets, 
which are also enlivened by shops built on the ground floor, by small works 
of sculpture and paintings. As a rule the streets were narrow, for this 
was considered healthier on account of the shade (Tacitus, Annals, XV, 

43) . Pompeii’s widest street measured only some 26 ft. across from house 
to house, including the sidewalks. Many streets were 13 ft., others only 
8 to 10 ft. wide. The streets having sidewalks, the track for vehicles 
in the middle was often so narrow as to make it impossible for two 
carriages coming from opposite directions to pass each other. If one 
was in the street, any that met it had to wait till it had left. Many streets 


Fig. 405. — Foman Ornamental Street : The Fonim Civile at Pompei 

placed longitudinally in such a way as to project from the pavement 
(Fig. 407). 

The streets were slightly cambered, The pavement consists of lava 

were blocked to traffic altogether. For this purpose some big stones were 
fixed at their entrances across the causeway or some larger blocks 

The triangular space was entered through dodrs at x. On two sides it is bordered by a colonnade, r6 ft. wide and 
some 670 ft. long, consisting of 100 columns. The third side is open 
I, Greek temple; 2, probably the wall of an altar for burnt-offerings ; 3, altars; 4, wells (?) ; s, low walls, shutting 
off the temple without hindering the view ; 6, seat with sun-dial ; 7, drains for the rain-water 

1 "IG. 404 

. — Plan of a Roman Ornamental Public Place : the Forum Triangulare at Pompeii 


blocks. This material being very soft, the cart-wheels gradually wore, 
ruts into it, which are still visible. (The theory that these ruts had been 

Fig. 406. — ^Pompeian. Street 

In the centre the pavement, consisting of polygonal lava blocks. On the left and right are seen elevated sidewalks 
with kerbstones ; in the houses, shops with counters (visible on. the left) 

cut purposely after the pavement had been laid down is wrong.) From 
them it can be ascertained that the distance between the cart-wheels in 
those days was 3 ft. (Fig. 408). The lava-tiles used for paving were 

i to traffic. (Strada del Tempio di Augusto at Pompeii) 
oly made before the kerbstones were laid, which cover the site of the second 
suggest that the stones originally lay on the sides. Afterwards tlie ruts b b 

Fig. 407. — Stree 
The original well-worn rut 

rut. Certain irregularities lu me j.ui. ouepcoi. ma*. ovv*>vo v.. ...y -.-w. — --- 

were made, and finally the street was barred to vehicles by means of the large stones lying at the level marked 

joined as tightly as possible. For this purpose they were cut specially 
at the corners. 

The paving-stones were joined very accurately, but as corners and 
edges broke off easily a general loosening took place in the course of time, 

Fig. 410.— Pavement with Stepping- 
stones for pedestrians. 

Fig. 409.- — ^Mended Pavement in Pompeii 
a, Iron ; b, granite ; c, marble ; d, gravel. 

Hence, the art of road-making practised by the Romans was excellent 
and suited the requirements of the traffic of that age perfectly. It must 
be borne in mind, however, that the traffic was chiefly effected on foot. 
Heavy vehicles for goods were not allowed in the streets except early 

and the pavement had to be mended. For this purpose small stones were 
inserted or iron wedges rammed into the pavement (Fig. 409). The side- 
walks were kerbed with cut stones (Figs. 406, 408, 411) which were often 

bored through. These 

^ borings served to fasten 

■ the awnings with which 

i - I the shopkeepers protected 

their shops and the goods 
displayed in front of them 
from the sun-rays and the 
rain. Some larger blocks 
• — usually three in a line — ■ 
were made to project from 
j the pavement of the cause- 
j way. They were intended 
tobeusedby the pedestrians 
as stepping-stones in violent 
rains (Figs. 408, 410). The 
I materials used for making 
dW the sidewalks varied ac- 
cording to the house-owner 
who was responsible for 
the repair and upkeep of 
the section. On the hard 
j battered earth there lay a 

Fig. 408.-Street in Pompeii 

In the foreground there are seen two cart-ruts and behind them three [OpUS Slgmnum) SlabS, 
stepping-stones used by pedestrians in wet weather marble OT asphalt. At 

the corners of the streets 
there were guard-stones, and along the sidewalks gutters with drain- 
pipes through which . the rain-water flowed into the sewers (Figs. 412- 



in the morning. Even riding- and driving were uncommon. 

Fig. 411.— Street in Pompeii 

Sidewalk with irregular kerbstones. Behind, a shop with counter, showing openings for holding vessels 

account no stables have been found in Pompeian houses, and only one 
doorway for carriages has been discovered. Besides, the elevated side- 

Fig. 412. — Street in Pompeii, witii Sidewalk and Gutter for the rain-water 


walks, the stone steps and the thresholds would have been sufficient to 

hinder the circulation of vehicles. T 
was regarded as undemocratic. 

Suetonius reports the decree of 
the emperor Claudius which pro- 
hibited travellers to pass through 
Italian towns otherwise than on foot 
or in sedan-chairs {Claud. 25). Of 
Marcus Aurelius we are told {Hist. 
Aug, iv, 23, 8) that he forbade horse- 

Fig. 413. — Sewer in the Forum at 
Pompeii, receiving the water from 
the pavement 

The connection with the main sewer was effected 
by small lateral drains 

reason is that riding and driving 

Fig. 414. — System of Gutters at Pompeii 
for draining off the raiir-watcr 

a, b, c, houses ; d, e, f, streets {d, Street of Fortuna) ; 
g, g, sidewalks; /(, ascending ramp xinder which the 
conduit lies ; i, i, i, i, outlets for the rain-water com- 
ing from three different streets. These outlets lie 
perpendicular to the pavement above which they rise. 

(Cf. Fig. 415) 

back riding, but apparently not driving, in towns. As a 
wanted to ride for their pleasure, they used high-roads or 
the towns, or sometimes covered colonnades (Juv., Sat. 

rule, if people 
places outside 
vii, 181). 

Fig. 415. — -Outlets for the rain-water in a street at Pompeii 

The diversion of rain-water was not the only problem of sanitation. 
It was just as necessary to remove the refuse and dust from the houses 
and the waste from the workshops. All these were carted away to special 
places outside the towns. Places of this kind {uonqiai or kotiq&vsz) have 
been found near Alexandria, Arsinoe and ancient Cairo. Other questions 
of hygiene were considered as much as possible, ‘ hygiene however, being 
here understood in the sense of the ancients. Vitruvius, for instance ( 1 , 6) , 
maintains that the winds should be kept off as far as possible from the 
towns because they convey an unpleasant sensation if they are cold, and 
make people ill if they are warm. As regards the la3dng-out of the inner 


parts of the towns, lie advises that the sites of temples, markets and other 
establishments devoted to public purposes ought to be fixed immedi- 
ately after the marking-out of lanes and streets ; that temples should 
be erected to the various deities, as weU as a gymnasium; amphitheatres, 
etc. He asserts that the size of pubhc squares should be in accordance 
with the size of the population ; that the length and the width of the 
forum civile, the main square, should be laid out in the ratio 3:2; and 
that the basilicas should be built in warm quarters in order to keep 
merchants warm in winter (cf, page 376). 

As to the horticultural embellishment of public squares, the ancients 
do not seem to have made use of it any more than the southern countries 
to-day. Green lawns and shrubs would be ill-suited to their architecture 
and they would only spoil the general effect of a public square. 



O F the appearance, the ground-plan and the internal arrangement of 
ancient oriental houses we have practically no record. None of 
the numerous excavations that have otherwise furnished such 
very valuable information on monumental buildings, arts, and many 
branches of industry, has been able to shed light on the art of building 
houses in the ancient East. This defect may be due to all the results of 
investigations and excavations having been used chiefly to explain their 
relevance to the history of the fine arts. Thus there is a vast and rich 
field open to technical science which it may take decades to explore. 
As far as can be ascertained to-day, the ancient oriental house, especially 
in Mesopotamia, evolved from the tent of the nomads. Its original form 
may have been a four-cornered or round space sheltered with a skin or 
mat. In the middle of this primitive roofing there was an aperture to 
admit the daylight, and to allow the smoke rising from the hearth to 
escape. Gradually the space became subdivided. Probably to begin 
with, cattle, which originally lived with the people, were separated from 
the living-room proper. There are certain indications that these dwellings 
were originally built against rocks. In any case statements relating to 
the original primitive habitations are based on hypothesis. What the 
Eastern dwellings which developed from them looked like, we do not 


More trustworthy information is available about the dwelling-houses 
of ancient Egypt, deficient as our knowledge still remains on the whole. 
Diverse models of Egyptian houses have been found in tombs. Dwellings 
are also shown on paintings, and lastly, some light is thrown on them by 
various isolated finds. These representations of houses combine a proper 
ground-plan with the design of various rooms, the contents of which are 
also drawn in minute detail. This peculiar method of showing houses 
with strange representations of doors and other details makes it rather 
difficult for people of to-day to obtain a clear idea of the ground-plan of 
these habitations. Nevertheless, attempts have been made to transpose 
these designs into the form of modern plans, and so it has been possible 
to draw some conclusions about distribution of rooms in large houses. 
It must be understood that all these pictures merely show the residences 
of the wealthy, or of high dignitaries. As to the houses of the lower 
1 The excavations at Ur have thrown some light on this problem, — Tmns. 



classes, we can make inferences only from the few preserved models and 
other important data. 

The models exhibited in various museums show a rectangular court 
enclosed by a wall. On one of the sides there is a house whose ground 
plan is a long narrow rectangle, that is, it is fairly wide, but not very deep. 

A flight of stairs leads from the court on to the flat roof of the house, which 
has obviously only one story. The roof is surrounded by a parapet, 
which is higher on the outer side than against the court, and thus allows 
all sorts of articles to be passed or thrown down into the court below. 
On one side of the roof there is a narrow cabin with the open side turned 
inwards. It may have served as a kind of bower in which people were 
protected from the sun’s rays and could gaze on the neighbourhood, or 
oversee work done in the court. Three rooms, probably the living- 
rooms, are to be seen on the ground floor. Although they are filled with 
grains of corn in the model at the British Museum, this does not justify 
the conclusion that they had actually been filled with corn in Egyptian 
houses, the above model being simply a toy-like imitation on a small 
scale, such as is used for a money-box or as a dainty receptacle for all 
sorts of trinkets. 

In Abydos, ground-plans of houses were found that showed great 
differences. In some a long narrow corridor runs through the house with 
rooms on both sides. In another the rooms are arranged along the 
four sides of an open court into which their doors open. Some 
rooms are built like porticoes. No far-reaching conclusions, however, 
can be drawn from these ground-plans, as it cannot be determined whether 
all their parts belong to the same early period. Large houses represented 
in the reliefs of tombs frequently exhibit a considerable number of rooms. 
From the entrance, near which the doorkeeper’s lodge usually stands, a 
long corridor leads into the interior court, one or more sides of which have 
the character of porticoes. Houses often have several courts and halls which 
may have been pillared. A peculiar feature of the Egyptian dwelling 
seems to have been the form revealed by the horizontal section, namely, 
a perfect square, or an almost exact rectangle. Residential houses, 
— at least, larger ones — do not appear to have been made of an elongated 
shape. In this respect the ancient Egyptian house differed widely 
from the Greek — which nearly always had unequal sides. For the rest, 
the deciding factors seem to have been the same as with us. Men had 
their houses built according to their economic circumstances, their require- 
ments and their tastes. It is improbable that the Egyptian dwellings 
were constructed on a more uniform principle than ours, at least with 
respect to the distribution of rooms. Similarly, the laying-out of gardens, 
which are often found attached to Eg3q)tian homes, was obviously a 
matter of personal taste, but not so in the case of the external appear- 
ance, which must have been practically the same for all houses, irrespec- 
tive of the pecuniary condition of their owners. The houses were mostly 
low and consisted only of a ground floor, which was sheltered by a flat 
roof on which there probably were isolated ^iperstructures. The win- 
dows were but few, and there was probably|jlly one outside door, the 

3i6 habitations 

frame of which gave ample opportunity for ornamentation. Apart from 
the decoration of the door, the windows, and the well-known hollow 
moulding, the facade was plain. Smaller dwellings were usually built 
together, and the streets consisted, therefore, of unbroken rows of houses. 
Large houses, however, seem usually to have stood alone or in gardens. 
The court was probably paved, and contained some open rooms and a well or 
fountain. Smaller properties lay round a common court . Large residences 
sometimes had a pillared vestibule in front of the chief entrance . N ear the 
main gate of palaces, which served as a doorway for the vehicles, there were 
some smaller gates for foot-passengers. The gates were closed with doors 
turning on pivots, which were fixed in pairs in the lintel and the threshold. 
If the door was made of bronze, the pivots were cast with the door in one 
piece (Fig. 69). In doors of other materials bronze mountings were 
nailed into them which ended in pivots. Doors were fastened by bolts 
or by locks with keys ; they will be discussed in detail below. 


The Greek dwelling, too, evolved from the cottage, which had been 
built after the nomadic period at the foot of a hill on which the citadel 
stood. It must be assumed that these cottages were originally round. But 
in very early times the influence of palace buildings exerted itself on the 
ground-plan of ordinary houses. Their ground-plan, which seems to be an 
imitation of the Mycenaean palaces, becomes rectangular and elongated. In 
the fifth century b.c. the middle-class house at Athens, built on this plan, 
was extremely simple. It consisted of a small court, next to which was 
the main room, surrounded by smaller apartments. The reason for this 
extreme simplicity is to be sought in the fact that in ancient Greece life 
was enacted in public ; people worked in the streets and frequented the 
market or tribunal (Courts of Justice). The private house was entered 
comparatively rarely, as it was only used for sleeping, cooking and storing 
provisions. It was no place of comfort, business or social intercourse. CoU'*- 
sequentlythe furniture was very primitive and consisted only of the most 
necessary things. A change' took place in the fourth century b.c. Demos- 
thenes (383-322 B.c.) complained that the good old times had gone in which 
the dwellings of Themistocles, Miltiades and Aristides did not differ in any 
way from those of their neighbours — while only temples and public 
buildings were magnificent. The development which began at that time can 
easily be followed. In a more ancient dwelling, dating from the fourth 
century B.c. at Priene, we find the same parts as in the Palace of Tiryns 
from which it is derived. In neither case does the door in the wnll which 
surrounds the building lead into the house but into a large court where 
we face the front of the main building, the megawn, which has the 
appearance of a temple owing to the portico and columns in front. The 
temple-like facade consists of two antae, two columns standing between 
them, and the frieze and pediment above. Through this vestibule we 
enter the largest room of the house, which, like the Palace of Tiryns, con- 
tains the hearth, the centre of all home life. On one side of the megaron 
and the court there is a long corridor. Along the whole length of the 


court, it is covered by a roof resting on columns. On the opposite side 
of the court there are bedrooms and rooms for the servants. Another 
covered building stands near the door which leads from the street into 
the court. In it were presumably kept implements, waggons and other 
articles Later on this building developedinto a more luxurious one, having 

Fxg. 416— Ancient Greek House at Priene, of the second century B.c. 

Reconstruction of Thiersch, according to the excavations of H, S^der and H, Wiegand. Model m the Deutsches 
^ ^ Museum. Munich 

a peristyle. It is characterized by the absence of the hall (the prostas which 
opens on the court) and by the fact that a colonnade surrounds the court 
—naturally there are transitional stages between houses with the prostas 
and houses with the peristyle, that is, there are houses which still have the 
prostas, but at the same time are bordered along the court by a colonnade 
(Fig. 418). As the sun is fairly high at midday in Greece and the sun- 



rays fall almost vertically, the house with a prostas as well as that 
with a peristyle had to be constructed accordingly. The prostas as well 
as the colonnade which superseded it always opens towards the south. 
Both of them stood between the hot sunny court and the principal 

room of the house, the 
oikos, which lay far back 
in the shade and was 
moreover shut off from 
the heat by a door. The 
interior of the oikos 'was 
faced with marble slabs or 
marble stucco, bordered 
along the top by a cornice, 
on which were placed 
household utensils, small 
works of art and statuettes 
of gods. The upper part 
of the wall, particularly 
the frieze, was painted. 
The court was paved or 
inlaid with mosaic. The 
mural paintings simulated 
walls of coloured marble 
or architectural details 
such as brackets, and, at a later period, figures. 

As paintings, however, grew more elaborate, houses became more 
luxurious ; further stories were added to the ground floor of the megaron, 
and afterwards also to other buildings situated round the court. In 
isolated cases this had been done earlier, as the excavations in the Palace of 
Minos at Knossos in Crete have 
shown. In the hall of the upper 
terrace a large mosaic was found 
representing some forty houses, which 
are obviously built partly of wood and 
partly of stone. Some are three- 
storied and have windows with panes. 

They may have been palaces or 
simply exceptions to the rule, as the 
house of several floors did not appear 
till later. In the second century B.c. 
they occurred fairly frequently. A 
loggia opening between columns into the court was built above the prostas 
or peristyle (Fig. 416). The upper floor served as a ladies’ apartment. 
When houses were enlarged two were joined together to form a large block 
with shops facing the street, rooms for practical purposes on the two 
longer sides of the court and living-rooms on the court opposite the 
entrance. The living-rooms are distinguished by different names : there 
are the common room of the family, the men’s apartment {andronitis), and 

Fig. 418. — So-called ‘House of Hyr- 
camis ’ (a court surrounded by a 

Fig. 417. — Ancient Greek Dwelling in Priene of the 
fourth century b.c. 

After a model in the Deutsches Museum, Munich 


the ladies’ rooms [gynaikonitis] , mostly lay at the rear or on the 
upper floor, and lastly, working-rooms for maidservants. For the rest , it is 
clearly seen from references by Homer in the Odyssey (XXI, 381) that even 
at that period the working-room for female servants lay behind the 
megaron. Extensive literature has gradually accumulated on this sub- 
ject. As is further seen from Homer, houses had an upper floor which 
served as the ladies’ habitation. These facts, as well as that the megaron 
was lighted by two windows {onai, Odyssey, I, 320), are beyond doubt. 
It has often .been assumed that the back-rooms were subdivided into two 
or three parts and that the megaron had either one or two doors leading 
into these rooms. But this point is so irrelevant as regards the technicali- 
ties of the essential parts of the ancient Greek house that we can pass it 


Although the houses at Pompeii have many details in common with 
those of Greece described above, and seem also to be related to those of 
Priene, Thera, Delos and Pergamon, the Greek influence on house- 
building in Italy did not make itself felt till a later period. The original 
Italian dwelling had nothing in common with the original Greek house : 
the two, in their most essential features, differ from each other. Even 
the Homeric home exhibits one strange peculiarity of the Greek dwelling — 
it was a kind of stronghold. The various parts of it were situated round 
a court and enclosed by a protecting wall which went right round the 
estate. When the Greek was at home he was entirely separated from the 
outside world. The windows were intended only to admit the light, not 
to satisfy people's curiosity about things outside. In Italy it was different . 
How the Greek home developed we do not know. Apart from what we 
can glean from Homer, the only trustworthy information we have is 
about houses dating from after Alexander the Great ; nor is it possible 
to trace the growth of building from the earliest beginnings in the case 
of Italian houses. We do Imow, however, that the mode of living 
was different in the two countries at a very early period. In Greece 
houses stood alone, whereas in Italy they had parietes communes — ^that 
is, they were built together. Owing to the rain which collected in the 
partitions and damaged the woodwork, every house had to provide its 
own arrangement to drain off the rain-water. This caused people to set 
up a kind of funnel on the roof through which the rain-water entered the 
house, where it was collected in a special basin. This arrangement, 
indeed, gave the Roman house, which is derived from the Etruscans, its 
characteristic form, whereas in the Greek house the central court is not 
roofed at all. The central hall, the atrium, round which are grouped the 
various rooms, was completely covered by a roof with a funnel-shaped aper- 
ture (the compluvium) through which the rain-water flowed into the atrium, 
where it was collected in a basin, the impluvium ; it was then generally 
passed into a cistern for domestic use. Like the court of the Greek house, 
the atrium is surrounded by rooms, the most important of which is the 
master’s room, the tahlinum, adjacent to the atrium. The entrance hall. 



which is characteristic of the chief apartment of the Greek house, namely the 
absent here. The entrance door [ianua] opposite 
to the tablinum leads the 
visitor into a corridor adja- 
cent to the atrium. The 
■parietes communes w&Q-yQxy 
convenient for the laying- 
out of streets, and since 
the latter were favourite 
resorts for business trans- 
actions, shops were built at 
a very early date on both 
sides of the street-entrance 
and of the corridor behind. 
As a rule they were not con- 
nected with the interior of 
the house in any other way 
and were accessible only 
from the street. In the at- 
rium, behind the impluvium, 
stood the hearth {focus), 
which gave its name to the 
hall, because it filled the 
whole room with smoke and 
made it black. The Latin 
ater means black or dark 
(Fig. 419). 

Influenced by all sorts of 
models, the most important 
of which were Greek, the 
original form of Roman 
house developed into a new 
type in the course of time— 
which was a combination of 
the Italian and Greek dwell- 
ing. Properly speaking the 
new type consisted of two houses — a Roman one in front containing the 
compluvium, atrium, and tablinum, with a corridor shortened by bring- 
ing the street door further inside. By this process a narrow exterior 
entrance hall, a vestibulum, was created. At the back this Roman 
house led into a Greek one characterized by the peristyle court, with 
its surrounding columns. Since here, as in Greece, two houses were 
combined into one, it was quite natural that this house, like the ancient 
Greek, should be divided into men's apartments and women's apart- 
ments. The latter were contained in the Greek part, that having a 
peristyle. Both houses were encircled by a common wall with only a few 
small windows. Inside rooms received their light from the court. As 
in the Greek house, the outer world was effectually cut off by the wall ; 


Typical form of the ^ 

Roman House with Perislyl? 
^Perisiyie House) 

Part of the Roof with its Gutter ( Compiuvium 1 

the privacy was undisturbed by the presence of the shops— -in many 
cases, however, there were none (Fig. 420). 

Owing to the fact that light did not enter through windows, but 
from the court or compiuvium, mural paintings had to be done in rather 
glaring colours, in order to make them visible (Fig. 421). The roofing of 
the peristyle shut out the best part of the light. The rest, falling on the 
paintings, was mostly reflected by the slabs of the court or the atrium. 
The colouring would appear too gaudy on the upper floors of our houses, 
lit up by windows, but is very well suited to the peculiar conditions of 
illumination in Roman houses. Sometimes special architectural con- 
trivances were used to put 
the paintings in a suitable 
light. In the so-called ‘ House 
of the Silver Wedding ’ at 
Pompeii, for example, there is 
a peristyle, similar to those 
found in Rhodes. The 
columnated wall on the south 
is higher than the three 
other sides. The lower 
columnated court is entered 
from the elevated atrium by 
the tablinum. Through this 
technical peculiarity of the 
peristyle the sun’s rays are 
more freely admitted in win- 
ter. Moreover, the colours 
were adapted to the conditions 
of lighting — darker or lighter 
shades being chosen accord- 

By degrees this type 
of Roman house — the most 
original form of which fre- 
quently possessed a small gar- 
den adjacent to the tablinum 
— underwent many changes, 
which were chiefly due to the 
increasing luxury, to the want 
of space in the cities (see 
Vitruvius ii, 8, 17), and the consequent rise in the price of land. Flow 
the last-mentioned process reacted on the further extension of Rome 
has been graphically described by Friedlander, who bases his remarks 
partly on Seneca : ‘ The contractors not only economized the||^ilding 
land by putting up as many stories as possible, but more so, 
ing and decreasing the rooms of individual dwellings to the y| 
reducing, at the same time, the cost of building to a mini | 
this method also increased the danger of fires. 

T.A.S. — 21 

• i 

Court -Viird 





Fig. 420, — Roman house with Peristyle Court 
After a niodel in the Deutsches Museum, Munich 


The walls of these flats were piled on top of each other and consisted 
of wood or wood and brick ; being very thin, they afforded no protection 
from heat or cold. A favourite pattern for walls was so-called net work, 

Fig. 421. — Mural Painting in mosaic style (Landscape on the Nile, Rome) 

Opus reticulaium (see the section ‘.Building in Stone '). Speculative 
jerry-builders favoured the. handsome design for the sake of appearance. 
The result was often a lack of stability of the structure, as walls built in 
this form cracked very easily. 



Friocllander continues: ‘ “ Apart of our fears,” says Seneca, ” are our roofs ; 
people flee from the halls of large palaces, adorned with paintings, as soon as they 
hear a creaking.” A large number of tenement houses were in a dilapidated state, 
the most necessary repairs being neglected or done insufficiently. If a landlord 

Fig. 422. — Roman Floor made of large slabs (Tr6ves) 

“had strengthened the tottering walls by a support and covered over an old chink, 
he would assure his tenants that they might sleep safely, although a collapse 
was imminent.” The collapsing of houses and the prevalence of fires were two of 
the evils characteristic of Rome even during the last years of the Republic.’ 

It stands to reason that 
in these circumstances 
it was impossible to ad- 
here to any one uniform 
type of house. But uni- 
formity of design was 
gradually abandoned in the 
case of the more luxurious 
residences, which increased 
in number towards the 
end of the Republic. For 
a long time changes had 
been in progress due to 
the gradual increase in 

the size of houses. The 424.~Roman Floor made of stones of different 
tablinum, for example, colours 


originally the private room of the master of the house, was left open 
on both sides towards the atrium as well as towards the peristyle, or, 

Fig. 425. — The House of the Vettii at Pompeii 

Fig, 426. — ^The House of the Vettii, ground plan 

B, door ; a, vestibulum, shut off from 6 by the street door ; 6, short corridor (fauces) ; c, atrium ; h, i, alae ; I, 
large peristyle ; m, garden ; s, second peristyle, smaller ; n, 0, p, q, r, rooms ; v, second atrium with altar dedi- 
cated to the Lares ; «, bedroom ; kitchen ; x, cook’s chamber 

Fig. 427. — Pillared Hall with Garden in the house of the Vettii at Pompeii (Fig. 426, 
I and m) 


when the latter was missing, towards the garden. In this way a, 
room was created which offered a pleasant coolness without other- 
wise serving a special purpose of domestic life. Moreover, the 
last two rooms on the two long sides of the house were left completely 
open on both sides. In this way two wings evolved {alae, Figs. 426, 
437> 443) which were marked off from the atrium, as luxury increased, 
by pilasters or adorned with columns between The alae 

themselves were provided with a specially handsome floor and other 
ornamentation (Figs. 422-424). It was here that the portraits of the 

ancestors were kept and the master of the house received his visitors. 
A second, smaller atrium, containing the altar of the Lares (as in the 
house of the Vettii at Pompeii) and a second peristyle were added later. 
Gradually the atrium lost its original character as a common room for the 
family which contained the money chest, and in earliest times, even the 
master's bed and other articles of daily use, and where the wife sat 
spinning. It also in later times often became a reception room. In order 
to avoid any disturbance in the tablinum, which served for social enter- 
tainment, one or two corridors {fauces) were built near the tablinum 
for people going from the atrium to the garden. The ground-plan of the 




Roman house thus changed more and more. Yet its original features 
were still to be recognized in the luxurious residences of a later period 
(Figs. 428-431). 

But it was completely lost sight of when the Romans began to equip 
the large villas in the neighbourhood of the greater cities with more and 
more magnificence. Pliny the Younger says of his two villas that one was 
provided with an open swimming-bath and that a soj ourn there was made 
pleasant by large rooms with two windows, gardens, and fountains. But 
such a villa was nothing compared with the gigantic and palatial buildings 
that arose during the time of the Caesars, to which the ruins of Hadrian’s 
villa near Tivoli still bear witness to-day. This was no longer a house but 

Figs. 428-430. — .Plans of Pompeian House 

a multitude of buildings scattered over an extensive stretch of land (Fig. 
432). It was no longer planned according to a definite technical tradition 
but entirely adapted to the special features of the ground and the caprice 
of the builder. 

Pliny had placed the couch in his villa at Laurentum in such a position 
that he had the sea at his feet ; Diomedes at Pompeii had a semicircular 
bedroom built with three immense windows, and placed his bed in a recess 
from which he had a view of the whole environment (Fig. 431, No. 14). 
Hadrian, however, ordered a stupendous wall of nearly 700 ft. in length to 
he built, stretching from east to west, so that one sicle always lay in the 



sun and the other in the shade ; this allowed people to take a walk in 
either sun or shade at any hour of the day (Figs. 433-435). 

Fig. 431. — Ground plan of a Pompeian country house (so-called ' Villa of M. Arrius 
Diomedes ’) 

The house stands on an incline and has .several stories. Parts lying on a level with the road are in black and are 
marked with figures ; those lower than the road are lighter and have small letters, i, outside stairs leading to the 
front door; 2, small vestibulum ; 3, peristyle with impluvium with two troughs at its sides; 4, staircase leading 
to the lower rooms ; aaa, corridor leading into the court and gardens ; 5, sleeping-room with bedsteads of masonry ; 
63, anteroom; 6, corridor; 7,f 00m ; 8, tablinum ; 9, room; 10, exedra; 11, staircase leading upwards; 12, 
triclinium ; 13, antechamber ; 14, large sleeping-room — ( 3 , y, alcoves ; 8,waslistand; 15 , passage to the garden ; 16, cloak- 
room ? ; 17, small court ; e, hearth; cold bath ; 18, 19, rooms ; 20, tepidarium ; 21, caldarium; ij, hot-water trough; 
0 niche with bath ; 32, hypocaust; 23, water tank ; 36, gallery ; 35, 27, rooms ; 28, terraces ; 29, 30, small moms ; 
31, entrance to the steward’s department; 32, passages to the steward’s rooms, which are separated from the rest 
because of the danger arising from fire ; 33, atrium-like court ; 34, portico ; b, staircase ; c, storerooms ; ciM, cor- 
ridor ; efgh, garden (335 sq. ft.) ; i, i, rooms ; ,b, triclinium used in summer ; I, m, n, 0, closets ; p, comdor ; q, 
stairs leading to cellar ; v, fish-basin with fountain ; s, pillared hall ; t, back door ; u, corridor ; w, stairs to garden 

If we enter into the technical details of the interior of Roman houses 
we are struck by the smallness of the individual rooms as compared with 


those of modern times. The House of Pansa at Pompeii is no ft. wide 
and 20 ft. deep (Fig. 429). A modern 'builder would perhaps fit 15 to 
20 rooms into this space. But Pansa’s house contains no fewer than 
60 chambers. The same applies to almost any Roman house. Even in 
Hadrian's vast and luxuriously equipped villa the guest-chambers are 
nothing more than small and rather dark rooms (Fig. 525). 

Fig. 432. — Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli 

Tj Open spare ; a, Greeli theatre ; 3, Latin theatre ; 4, ground for athletics ; 5, nymphaeum. ladies’ bath ; 6, pillared 
hail ; 7, chambers of the body-cuard ; 8, school ; 9, swin>ming-bath ; 10, court of the library ; xr, Latin library ; 12, 
Greek HI irary ; 13 triclinium ; 14, Doric peristyle ; 15, the Emperor’s palace ; 16, the stadium ; t 7, subterranean passage ; 
tS, thermae'', 19, Valiey of Canopus (artificial valley) ; 20, Timop’s tower ; 21, so-called Academy (dwelling-house); 

*3,' Odeon (theatre) 

This peculiarity is due to the predilection of the Southerner forspend- 
ing as much time as possible in the open air. This same tendency left 
its traces in the curious development of the roof, which was often made 
flat in order that people might promenade there and enjoy the sunshine 
during the cool hours of the day or in chilly weather. That is why it was 
called solarium. But sometimes people also wished to be cool or to have 



sliELcIc in the solarium ; for this reason they constructed bowers or 
per gul a e, ^. 

favourite haunt for taking ^ 

of hall with colonnade, Fig. 433.— Part of Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli (in the 
ornamented with statues background the long wall) 

and other works of art. 

In houses let to several 
families the staircase often 
'll led from it to the upper 
floor. The vestibulum was 
closed to the ground floor 
by the front door, which 
in most cases opened in- 
’^} wards. Only owners of 
high standing were allowed 
/jv to have a door opening on 
to the street. (Concerning 
the door itself, cf. p. 335.) 
Inside the door we see the 

I I inner part of the corridor, 
I the ostium, in which there 
I was often a lodge for the 
I doorkeeper (Fig. 442) who 
kept watch with his dog. 
5^ This explains why the 
M warning cave canem ha,s 
W often been found painted 
on the floor there or in- 
laid as a mosaic. 

The ostium, when it 
occurs, leads into the 
atrium. Vitruvius (VI, 3) 
distinguishes five kinds of atria, which, according to their form, are called. 

-The ‘ Promenade-wall ' in Hadriair's 
Villa at Tivoli 



Tuscan, Corinthian, tetrastyle (four columns), displuviate (without eaves), 
and testudinate (covered). Of these only the atrium testudinaUm was 
entirely covered ; all the others were partly open. The Tuscan atrium is a 
simple quadrangle with its roof shelving inwards. The roof was supported 
by two main rafters whose ends lay in the walls, and by two auxiliary 

Fig. 436. — Ruins of a Roman House (Sallust’s villa), excavated in Pompeii 
Model in the Deutsches Museum, Munich 

[tigni colliciarum) ; /, the laths [capreoU). The roof was covered by two 
kinds of tiles : flat tiles {imbrices), and hollow tiles {tegulae) which were 
laid over the joins of the flat tiles to cover the gaps. A third kind of 
tiles are the hollow tiles which cover the junction of the two sides of the 
roof {tegulae colliciarum).' All these kinds of tiles were found in 1852 at 
Pompeii in the Casa di Sirico. They all belonged originally to the roof of 

Fig, 435. —Part of the ‘Promenade-wall’ of Hadrian's Villa 

rafters fastened to the other two. Mazois has reconstructed this kind of 
atrium (Figs. 438, 439) as follows ; ‘ a, the walls ; h, the main rafters {trades ) ; 
c, auxiliary rafters {tigilU or trabeculae) fitted into the main rafters, thus 
forming the quadrangular opening ; d, mid-beams {interpensivae) which 
kept the whole beam-work on the same level ; e, the inclined supports 



the peristyle, which unfortunately collapsed (Fig. 440) ; ‘A, flat tiles ; B, 
hollow tiles inverted over the joints of the former; C, curious hollow tiles 
covering the junction of two adjacent sides of the roof, obviously an 
excellent arrangement for draining off the rain-water quickly ; it also 
made the roof water-proof at points where the rain flowed on it 
from two sloping sides. 

Some of the ordinary 
tiles (i, 2, 3) are provided 
with special apertures of 
varying forms for ad- 
mitting the daylight into 
the rooms below. In 
order to keep off the rain 
at the same time they 
may have been closed 
with some transparent 
material ; no traces of it, 
however, have been found 
and the point is still 
open to dispute. Fig. 

440 shows the various 
forms of tiles on a 
larger scale and marked 
with the same letters and 
numbers as in the main 
drawing. C is a side 
view of the recently 
discovered corner tiles ex- 
hibiting the curvature and 
upturned edges over which 
the hollow tiles were 
inverted' (Overbeck). 

The Corinthian atrium 
and the atrium with four 
columns were funda- 
mentally like the Tuscan 
with the exception of one 
detail in the four-column 
atrium, in that the main 
rafters are supported by columns at the four points at which they are 
connected with the auxiliary rafters. The Corinthian atrium has more 
than four columns and a larger opening for the compluvium, as there 
must be sufficient space for the extra columns. The rafters only reach 
from the walls to the epistyle or architrave of the columns. As for the 
atrmm displuviatiim, the roofs slope outwards, that is, the rain does not 
flow into the impluvium, but is collected in the eaves fastened to the 
outer edge, from which it flows into the cistern. According to Vitru- 
vius this kind of atrium offers great advantages in winter dwellings 

Fig. 437. — House with Tuscan Atrium. (House of 
M. Nonius in Pompeii) 

I, Ostium ; 3, 2«, shop with hack room ; 3, atrium ; 4, 5, 6, 7, sleeping- 
rooms; 8, front yard ; 9, corridor; 10, loa, alae ; u, tablinuin; 13, 
occus ; ij, front yard ; 14, kitchen ; 15, tepidarium ; 16, caldarium ; 
17, colonnade; 18, exedra (reception-room with settees along the walls) ; 
19, sleeping-room ; so, oeous ; 21, summer-triclinium ; 23 and 2^, 
uncertain, buried under dfebris; 24, shop 


because the roofs are turned upwards and thus do not keep off the 
light from the dining-rooms. The drawback, however, is the fre- 
quency with which they have to be repaired, because the eaves often flow 
over, causing damage to the walls and the woodwork of the building. 

Figs. 438 and 439. — Tuscan Atrium (ground-plan, and cross-section) 

But the atrium displuviatum had also an inner aperture which is missing 
in the atrium testudinatum. Although the latter had received its name 
from the tortoise;(^esi(i/^fo) it bore no resemblance to it, The roof was not 
vaulted but shaped like a pyramid. Vitruvius recommends it wherever 
spacious living-rooms are to be built on the upper floor. 

Fig. 440. — Tiled roof of the Casa di Sirico in Pompeii 

Ancient houses also had cellars, the hypogaeae, though not as 
frequently as modern houses. The light entered them from the court 
or peristyle. The ceiling was sometimes vaulted. The windows were 
smaller than ours, taken in proportion to the total surface of the house. 



Fig. 441. — -Tetrastylum (Atrium with four columns) of a small Pompeian house 

The street-door leads directly into the atrium (i), the ostium being missing; ^ and 3, working'jooms ? ; (4), tab- 
linum ; 5, sleeping-room ; 6 (?) ; 7, kitchen with hearth, sink, and a staircase leading to the upper floor 

Fig. 442. — ^Pompeian House with Atrium Displuviatum (called Casa di Modesto) 

In 3 the basin of the impluvium is missing. On the other hand, the double wall suggMts that flowere had been 
planted there instead. Next to this pseudo-impluvium there are the openings of cisterns (in 4) into which wm con- 
ducted the rain-water from the pipes and from the roof, which sloped outwarfs. i. Ostium ; 2, atrium ; 3, pseudo- 
impluvium ; 4, openings of the cisterns ; 5. stairs leading to two apartments on the upper I 
r ,4nnrkPPnRr; o. kitchen 1 10, Shop with counter, directly connected with the interior of the 

n of the doorkeeper ; 9, kitchen ; 

Fig. 443.— Pompeian House with a Cellar (itt the unshaded part of the drawing) 

I Door without a vestibule : 2, atrium ; 3 and 9, sleeping-rooms ; 4, tabUnum ; 5, alac; 6, stairs; 7, triclinium; 
8, excdra; 10, stairs leading to the upper flodr ; 11, stairs leading into the cellar 



The shops occasionally had some further rooms at the rear (Figs. 437, 444) 
and sometimes they were connected with sleeping-rooms on the upper 

Fig. 444. — ^Plan of a Shop 
3, Shop proper, with counter, bent at a right angle. 
The counter contains openings for vessels, .^t its end 
a small stove (provisions, including cooked food, were 
soldhere). Shelves along the walls. 4, Staircase leading 
to rooms above; 5, back rooms; 1, causeway; 3, 

Fig. 445. — 'Front view of a Shop in Pompeii 

On the street-front was the counter, past which people could walk 
directly into the house. The counter often had openings into which 
goods or vessels could be placed (Figs. 444, 445, and4ii). The door- 
step in front of the shop was provided for about three-quarters of its 
length with a narrow groove. Narrow planks with overlapping edges 
could be pushed sideways into this groove when the shop was to be 
shut up. 

Fig. 446. — ^Entrance of a Roman Shop 

a, Device for locking the door ; b, groove cut in the doorstep 

A movable door turning on hinges was placed on the threshold at the 
point where the groove ended. In the daytime it was thrown back ; at 
night it was pushed forward and firmly fastened to the adjoining plank of 
the shutter with a lock. In this way the shop was entirely closed, the 
planks reaching as a rule to the upper transverse beam, as is shown by the 
grooves there (Figs. 446-448). 

DOORS 335 


The various apartments of a house were shut off from each other by 
means of doors, or often simply by curtains. Like the street-doors, these 
interior doors were made of wood, preferably of the cypress, oak or deal. 
Hard wood, such as box-tree, oak, olive, or elm-tree, was used for the 
pivots and the bolts. The wood had to be well seasoned, and was often 
left in the press for years after having been glued, in order to prevent it 
from warping, The doors of the rich were veneered and adorned with 
bronze, ivory and other ornaments. In order to counteract the wai-ping 
of the wood, the doors were not constructed of boards but were provided 
with panels {paginae : Pliny, XVI, 225}. These panels were let in below 
the surface, and the angle between the frame and panels was filled in by a 
moulded fillet. Ancient doors did not turn on hinges like those of our 
day but swung round on pivots {oxQ6q)iyyeg, cardines, scapi cardinales) 
fixed in the threshold and the lintel. It has been mentioned above that 
these pivots were made of hard wood, but more frequently they were cast 
in bronze. Sometimes the doors had special timbers {dt^oveg; that is, 
axles), the top and bottom of which projected as tenons. These tenons 
moved in mortises or bronze bearings which were let into the threshold and 
the lintel. More often, however, the bronze caps were directly fastened 
to the pivots, or the pivots as well as the mortises were protected by 
bronze shoes. Later, the bronze shoes were provided with a point under- 
neath, to give the door firmness, and to ensure the stability of the 
mechanism. The door was fastened by means of bolts (pessuli) which 
slid into the lintel and the threshold, or by means of transverse beams 
which lay across the door and fitted into holes in the door-posts. A curious 
way of fastening the door from the inside was to plant a rafter firmly 
at an angle against it, the lower end being held in position by a stone 


which was fastened into the ground and left projecting. Beside these 
contrivances, however, locks were used during the whole of antiquity. 


Locks and keys are already referred to in Homer’s Odyssey (XXI, 5, 42) . 
The genesis of the key is to be explained as follows : a door was fastened 
originally by a bolt which fitted into a hole in the door-post, or in the case 
of folding doors, into a clamp nailed to one of its wings. As this contriv- 
ance could easily be undone, an obstacle was created in the form of a 
notch made for one or more pegs in the bolt. In order to open the bolt the 
pegs had first to be removed from the notch. This could easily be done 
from the inside, but from the outside a special in.strument had to be 
applied. This led to the invention of the key, the earliest form of which 

Figs. 449-451. — Models of Roman Keys 

was a rod with pinnacle-like projections. When necessary, the part of 
the rod with these projections was bent in such a w'ay that the bolts could 
easily be reached through a hole in the door, the keyhole. Keys of this 
kind were used very long ago in ancient Egypt. The parts of the lock 
described above were originally made of wood, and so, probably, was the 
key with which it was necessary to be able to exert the required pressure. 
Later it was made of bone, and finally of metal. In isolated cases 
locks were made of metal, even in Eg5rpt. The ancient Egyptian locks 
known to us from the age of Ramses II (1292-1225 b.c.) were also used 
by the Greeks and Romans, and still continue in use in the East. Accord- 
ing to the explanations given by Diels and the reconstructions made by 
Jacobi, they were made in the following manner. For simplicity we shall 
assume that the lock lies in such a position that a straight key may be 
used, though it makes no difference if the position of the lock renders it 
necessary to use a bent key, examples of which have been found in Egypt. 
The key may have any desired number of prongs or teeth. It can be intro- 
duced either into the incision made specially in the bolt R, or into the case 
above (Figs. 449-451). When it has entered the bolt it is pressed a little 
upwards, by which action the plugs or pegs B that had previously fallen 
into the notches of the bolt are lifted. The teeth of the key will then 
take the place previously occupied by the pegs in the openings of the 
upper part of the bolt which reach down to the keyhole. It is then easy 


to pull out the bolt towards the outer end of the keyhole. Only one hand 
is needed for this kind of lock ; but if the key is inserted into a'lock of the 
second kind the small pegs are lifted so much by the pressure of one hand 
that they leave the notches in the bolt. The bolt itself can then be pulled 
out by the other hand. The fact that these pegs are called pdKavoi, 
that is, acorns, gives rise to the name balanos-lock. Its mechanism has 
served as the basis of the locks of many modern safes, such as the Yale 
lock, in which the teeth of the key are of different lengths and have to fit 
most accurately into the wards filed into the lamella-shaped plugs. 
Otherwise the latter cannot be lifted high enough to fasten the lock. 
The ancient Greek lock mentioned by Homer chiefly consisted of a wooden 
bolt which was fastened to the inside of the door (Figs. 452 and 453). 

Fig. 4 52 . — Homeric Lock . The original 
form had only one protuberance 

The above model byBrinkmaun (see Figs. 449-5i) 
corresponds to a type which was probably also used 
by the ancients; as It has three protuberances 
wider play of the bolt is obtained 

Fig. 453. — ^The Unlocking of a 
Homeric Lock, on a Greek vase 
Berlin .Utes Museum, Antiquarium. For explana- 
tion, see the text, which is based on Diels’ 

By means of a narrow thong the bolt was pulled from the outside into 
the clamp and thus fastened the door. The strap was then tied into a 
knot. If the door was to be re-opened from the outside, the knot was 
untied and the bolt pushed backwards by a long hooked key. What the 
key looked like is seen from pictures (Figs. 453 and 454) and above all 
from a key found in the temple of Artemis at Lusoi in Arcadia. As 
Brinkmann suggests, the key probably had several protuberances {a) by 
which the bolt could be pushed back by the key (Fig. 452). This con- 
trivance was not absolutely trustworthy. That is why the ‘ prudent ’ 
Penelope ties the strap into quite a special knot. During the post-Iiomeric 
period this kind of lock was more and more perfected ; Schliemann found, 
during his excavations at Mycenae and Troy, iron keys with wards or 
three teeth as well as a ring for suspending them (Fig. 435). The metal, 
and particularly the iron, lock was not really developed until the Roman 
period. The whole make-up of the Roman lock proves clearly that it 
evolved from the ancient wooden lock. The essential improvement was 
brought about by the use of a spring which pressed the small pegs into 
the notches of the bolt and made it more difficult to raise them. More 

Fig. 454. — Female Servant with Key (Attic i-elief on a grave) 

455. — Key from Ilium (Troy) , Fig. 456.- -Roman Key 

striicted in such a way that the key was not thrust in straight but hooked 
in diagonally to the left, then placed at right angles and lifted a little in 
order to fit the key-bit into the notches of the bolt. The bit then dis- 
placed the pins, which were wedged into the notches and pressed down by 
the spihng. The bolt was next moved to the right by the key and the 
lock was opened. In the older locks the key could not be withdrawn 
as long as the bolt was not shot. But later Roman locks have devices 
which allow the key to be removed. 

the pegs. In the meantime the pegs altered. They became straight pins 
which often glided in grooves and were pressed down by a spring, which 
enabled the bolt to be moved forwards or backwards. The mechanism 
is thus the same as that of the hair-trigger-lock of fireproof money chests 
(Figs. 457 and 458). The keyhole of Roman locks (Fig. 459) was con- 


pressure had to be applied to lift them and so it was found necessary to 
make the key of metal. In addition, the position of the pegs was altered 
in such a way that they could be moved only by certain keys. Thus the 
key-bit varied in different cases and often showed a very complicated 
form (Fig. 456). It catches in the cell-like gaps of the bolts and displaces 


A very frequent form of key was the ‘ linger-ring key ’ ; it was originally 
made of bronze, and later of silver and gold. It was worn by the head 

Figs. 457 and 458. — Roman Trigger-lock with spring, pegs moving in groove,s, and a key 
(Same principle as the Yale lock.) Model in the Deutsches Museum, Munich 

of the family on the middle finger of the left hand as a sign of authority. 
At a subsequent period this sort of key was worn by elegant Roman ladies 
as an ornament. 

Fig. 459.— Roman Keyhole and Key 
Model in the Deutsches Museum, Munich 

-Roman Padlock 

against the opening and prevented unlocking. If J:he lock was to be 
opened this spring had to be compressed by means of the key (Fig. 460). 


A ntiquity produced a great number of monuments and public 
buildings, often of truly colossal dimensions. Many of them are 
even superior to anything constructed by the highly developed 
technical science of our time. The gigantic mass of material used to 
build them has often led to the belief that the ancients must have had at 
their command special technical devices which were more efficient than 
our modern means but have been lost and forgotten. Nothing can be more 
fallacious. The technical resources were altogether very simple, as has 
been shown in the chapter on ' Technical Mechanics and Machines '. 
The prodigious achievements of the ancients were entirely due to the fact 
that both human labour and time had a low value, and could be supplied 
on a lavish scale quite foreign to our present-day standards. 

But on the whole little remains to be said about the general technical 
criteria of monumental and public buildings that is not treated in detail 
in other sections of this book, such as the section on ‘ Building Imple- 
ments Generally speaking, the ancients erected them according to the 
conventional principles of their time, which were also applied to the 
construction of houses and fortifications. Yet some of these buildings 
exhibit technical characteristics which are peculiar to themselves alone, 
and the purpose of the following pages is to discuss these peculiarities 
more closely. If any particular monumental edifice is ignored this is 
is to be taken as signifying that it lacks these peculiarities, and that it was 
built according to the general methods and with the means dealt with 
in other chapters. The size of a building, taken alone, is not a technical 


Among the monumental edifices distinguished by a special technique 
the pyramids occupy the foremost rank. There are in Egypt some eighty 
royal tombs of pyramidal form and in a state of complete or partial 
preservation. The largest and most important of all is that of Cheops. 
The lower part of this pyramid as well as the subterranean sepulchral 
vault hewn in the living rock was built by Cheops (Khufu) II (about 
2600 B.c.) and the gigantic work was completed ultimately by Chabryes 
(Khofra),the fourth king of the Fourth Dynasty, who had a magnificent 
sepulchral chamber constructed in the upper part of the pyramid.^ The 
subterranean vault remained a crude unfinished cavity. 1 he length of the 
base-lines of the edifice amounts to about 775 ft. and the height to 493 ft. 

^ This statement is far from certain, see Flinders Petrie, History of Egypt, 
i, p. 56 et seqq. 




Over two and a half million cubic metres of masonry were necessary to 
build it. The material used was nummulitie, limestone obtained from the 
large quarries in the Mokattam mountains near Cairo. 

\\diat is most remarkable about this pyramid is the way in which 
mathematics enters into its technical construction. Sir Isaac Newton in 
the seventeenth century studied this aspect, but it was not till the nine- 
teenth century that the majority of the underlying problems was solved. 
The mathematical relationships .show what astounding knowledge of 
mathematics and astronomy the ancient Egyptians possessed, and how well 
they knew the way to apply it to their most striking monumental works. 
The four sides of the p5n-amid accurately coincide with the four cardinal 
points, and this fact has led Biot and others to believe that they were 
intended to ascertain the dates of the equinoxes in the following way : 
the day was noted on which the centre of the rising or setting sun coin- 
cided with the northern or southern base-line of the pyramid. Similarly 
the eastern and western amplitudes were determined for any day of the 
year by measuring the angle T which has a maximum value of 27° there 
(Figs. 461 and 462). But there were also astronomical observations that 
could be carried out by means of the pyramid, as the sections made 
through its apex from north to south and from east to west coincide with 
the meridian planes and the prime vertical respectively, and the Pharaoh, 
according to the view of the Egyptians, was the luminous pole about which 
the world revolved. This idea was expressed in the technical proportion 
of the pyramid in that the adit leading down into the subterranean 
sepulchre had an inclination of exactly 27°. As the earth’s axis is not 
fixed, but, on account of precession, describes a circular cone of angle 
23|'° in about 26,000 years around the poles of the ecliptic, any star lying 
in the neighbourhood of that circle becomes a pole star once in this time. 
At present this position is held by the star a of the Little Bear. In the 
time of Cheops, however, according to the calculations of Flammarion 
and Ule, the star a of the Dragon (Draco) was the pole star, which at 
that time stood nearly 3° away from the north pole, Accordingly the 
height of its upper culmination was 30° -f- 3° — 33“, and the height of 
its lower culmination 30° — 3° = 27° (strictly speaking, 26° 18' lo"). 
As the adits leading to the sepulchral vault showed the same inclina- 
tion, the rays of the polar star when at its lower culmination must have 
fallen directly on the dead Pharaoh, the deceased centre of the con- 
temporary world. Herschel, who also studied the astronomical prob- 
lems of the Cheops pyramid, conjectured that the lower culmination of 
the contemporary pole star was chosen because in 2160 B.c. the star 
Alcyone in the Pleiades, which was so familiar to the ancients, and is now 
the star 7] of Taurus, happened to cross the meridian above the pole at 
the very point where the star a of the Dragon had its lower culmination. 

This was a coincidence of two astronomical events that repeats itself 
only after 25,827 years. For this reason Herschel attributes a great 
significance to the year 2160 B.C. in the history of the construction of the 
pyramid. To judge from a theory put forth by several investigators, 
the periodic cycle of 25,827 years which is due to the precession of the 


equinoxes has also received expression in the pyramid, inasmuch as 
its circumference at the height of the floor of the upper royal vault 
amounts to 25,837 pyramid units (see below). 





But this is not all . The brightly shining star Sirius, which the Egyptians 
called Sothis, in the southern sky was the object of special worship, 
because to them it was the embodiment of the goddess Isis. By means 
of this star they fixed their years and important dates. From the 
sepulchral vault ventilating shafts led towards the outside. The four 
planes of the pyramid were inclined in such a way that the rays of Sirius 
when culminating fell on the southern plane, hit it exactly at right angles, 
and passed straight through the ventilating shafts, which also met the 
plane of the pyramid perpendicularly, into the sepulchral vault, lighting 
up the sarcophagus of the dead Pharaoh. At the time of Cheops Sirius 
culminated in Egypt at an altitude of nearly 38°. Consequently the 
planes of the pyramid had to be given an inclination of go° — 38® 52° 

(strictly speaking, 51° 51' 14-3"). Before discussing another correlation 
of this figure with the pyramid we wish to point out that a result of this 
inclination of 52° was that at midday the sun lit up the pyramid in such a 
manner as to produce no shadow from the last days of February to the 
middle of October. This again is symbolical. From Nature’s awakening 
at midday in spring till the beginning of her autumnal decline, Ra, the 
God of the Sun, pours the full lustre of his rays on to the resting-place of 
the Pharaoh. Moreover, Schoy points out that the pyramid, on account 
of its orientation and the inclination of its planes, could well serve as a 
gnomon (hand of a sun-dial), for it was possible to ascertain fairly accu- 
rately the beginning of the four seasons by the distribution of light on 
the planes, the possible error being less than 24 hours for the equinoxes 
and less than 42 hours for the solstices. 

The same angle of 51° 51' 14-3" occurs in the facing-stones that, 
centuries ago, were removed from the pyramid to Cairo and used for 
building houses. To-day the pyramid appears as a structure rising in 
steps. But this is only the core. When originally covered with the 
facing-stones the surface of the pyramid was so smooth that it was 
impossible to ascend it. In 1837 two of these facing-stones were dis- 
covered by Floward Vyse. Since then Dow Covington has found other 
traces of the facing on the northern base-line. The facing-stones astonish 
us with the precise workmanship of their surfaces, corners and edges. 
They must have fitted together extraordinarily well. If we calculate 
from the mathematical proportions of the pyramid such as it was when 
covered with the facing-stone, we come to the surprising conclusion, 
according to Piazzi Smyth, that the perimeter of the quadrangular base 
(3,095 ft. 6 in.) is equal to the circumference of a circle of radius equal 
to the height of the pyramid, namely 492 ft. 3 in. Or circumference 
equals 2 X 492 ft. 3 in. X tt ~ 3095 ft. 6 in. 

As this can hardly be pure chance, we must assume that the builders 
of the p3n:amid knew the famous ratio n — 3’i4i59 of the circumference 
of a circle to its diameter thousands of years ago ; moreover, they applied 
it in their mechanical arts ; it was hot rediscovered in later times till the 
Dutch mathematician Ludolf van Ceulen calculated it in the sixteenth 

The solar year of our earth has 365*2422 days. If we divide a base- 


line of the pyramid by this figure the result is a unit which recurs so often 
in the dimensions of the vaults and galleries that Smyth has called it the 
pyramid-metre (0-635 m. or 2 ft. 22 in.). Strange to say, this unit is 
exactly the ten- millionth part of half the polar axis of the globe. If 
the pyramid-metre is divided into 25 equal parts, a new unit will be 
obtained.the ‘ pyramid-inch ’, which was probably used by the builders 
of the pyramid, for it seems to be represented on a plate of granite found 
in front of the entrance to the royal chamber. The perimeter of the base of 
the pyramid is 3,6524-2 pyramid-inches, being the figures which represent 
the solar year of the earth. The axis of the earth has a length of 5-10’ 
pyramid-inches. The distance between the sun and the earth amounts 
to 10^ times the height of the p5nramid, another striking fact which surely 

Fig. 463. — ^Vertical section through the Pyramid of Cheops 

cannot be a whim of chance. Rather it gives us an insight into the 
amazing astronomical knowledge of the ancient Egyptians, or at least of 
their priests. For the rest, the figures 10 and 9, which certainly do not 
occur as accidental expressions of the ratio between the sun and the 
pyramid, are also found in the external dimensions : the height of the 
pyramid is to half the diagonal of its base as 9 is to 10. 

These remarks show on what wonderful mathematical calculations 
and astronomical relations the dimensions, planes and angles of the 
pyramid are based, and what secrets and problems it contains, of which 
perhaps only a part have been unfolded. On the other hand, the investi- 
gations of Dow Covington have revealed what a great technical feat 
was accomplished in constructing this miraculous work. One hundred 



thousand workers piled up stones for twenty years (Herodotus, II, 124) 
and arranged not less than 2,300,000 blocks in 210 successive layers. 
The facing was made of white limestone, so that the pyramid must 
originally have presented to the onlooker a truly dazzling aspect in the 
bright rays of the Egyptian sun. After the southern ventilating shaft 
mentioned earlier, as well as another facing the north, had been cleared, 
it was found that the air streaming through them produced musical 
sounds resembling those of an Aeolian harp. These sounds were different 
for each shaft, but if heard together they were all in harmony. The royal 
chamber is made of polished granite, being composed of exactly one 
hundred blocks. Above it there are five more chambers, which were first 
discovered by Davidson in 1763. They are constructed in such a way 
that the ceiling of one forms the floor of the next above. The granite 
slabs of the ceiling are carefully polished, whereas those of the floors are 
left rough and uneven. What purpose these chambers served has 
remained a secret till the present day. Nor has it ever been explained 
how the empty and lidless royal sarcophagus was conveyed into the 
sepulchral vault, all the galleries, shafts and adits being much too narrow 
to let it pass. So many questions arise in the case of the large pyramid 
that doubts have been entertained whether it is a royal tomb at all. 
From time to time the theory has been proposed that it served only to 
fix for ever the standard mea.sure of the Egyptians, the pyramid-metre, 
just as the standard measure of the metric system is nowadays preserved, 
in a vault of the International Bureau for Weights and Measures at St. 
Cloud near Paris, .safe from fire, thieves and shocks ; it is the standard 
metre, which is made of an alloy of platinum and iridium, this metal 
being humanly speaking unchangeable for all time. Moreover, .starting 
from the false assumption that the length of the axis of the earth is invari- 
able, its inventors referred the length of the metre to the dimensions of the 
earth in order that the standard metre may be reconstructed at any time 
in case it should get Perhaps the Egyptians had a similar object in 
view. But these are mere conjectures, although put forward by technical 
experts. Nevertheless it is striking that the pyramid of Cheops is the 
only one to exhibit the above mathematical and astronomical relations. 
All the other pyramids are deficient in them ; they are not even orientated 
towards the four cardinal points. For the present the theory must be 
accepted that the large pyramid of Cheops, like other pyramids, was the 
burial-place of the Egyptian king, 


Among the masterpieces of ancient Egyptian monuments we must also 
count the sphinxes, which excite our astoni.shment not only on account 
of their size but equally much on account of their consummate execution. 
■We admire the dying lion of Lucerne, cut out of the rock by Thorwaldsen. 
But if we consider only its dimensions and not its artistic value, what does 
it signify in comparison with the great sphinx situated near the pyramids 
of Gizeh ? They are both made- of one block, but the sphinx is no less 
than 77 ft. high and igo ft; long. What must have been the size of the 


block out of which this overwhelming masterpiece was sculptured with a 
skill that does not cease to inspire the deepest admiration ! 

But this is not the only sphinx. There are a great number of others, 
all of which are, however, monoliths in spite of the fact that the material 
of which they are composed was by no means always easy to work. 
Sometimes sandstone was used, but more often porphyry ; mostly, how- 
ever, granite of such hardness that the very best modern steel chisels 
rapidly blunt themselves on it. Many of these sphinxes were probably 
polished like a mirror ; but how was this achieved, by what means, and 
how long did it take to polish surfaces of such colossal dimensions ? 

All these are problems which may perhaps never reach solution. 
The sphinxes are usually found placed in front of temples. In front of 
smaller temples we find thirty to forty, but hundreds have often been 
found near large temples. In spite of this great number not a single sphinx 
has been discovered in a good state of preservation. In the course 
of time they have all been worn away by the sand of the desert or 
destroyed by human hands. We now know that the sphinxes are repre- 
sentations of Egyptian kings, though in the shape of animals. The 
largest of all known sphinxes lies in front of the pyramids at Gizeh, where 
it was buried in the sand of the desert till 1817. In that year it was 
excavated at the request of the European consuls, when it was at once 
found to be cut out of the bed rock of the earth. A magnificent staircase 
was found leading up to the monument, and between its forelegs a care- 
fully paved terrace was laid bare which led to a shrine built against the 
breast of the colossus. The entrance to the shrine was near the right 
fore-paw. The face of the sphinx looks directly towards the east. The 
excavation of the monument cost a great sum and twenty years later 
everything that had been brought to light was again buried in the sands 
whirled up by the winds. In 1843 a second excavation was organized 
by Lepsius, the German Egyptologist, a third by Marietta in 1853, and a 
fourth by Maspero in 188^6. They all led to the conviction that the 
sphinx had been covered up at least 3,400 years ago and laid bare again 
by King Thothmes IV in 1533 b.c. Some time or other it must have been 
buried with intention, for in certain places layers of sand with strata of 
small stones one foot high have been discovered piled up round the sphinx 
and cemented so well as to make it possible to cut steps. The colossus 
has been excavated again recently, and in spite of the damage it has 
suffered, it has proved possible, by repeated investigations, to obtain a 
true conception of its original appearance. The ancient Egyptian stone- 
masons showed great discrimination in choosing a rock, part of which 
projected sufficiently far to make it well suited for the head of a monu- 
ment. Fig. 464 conveys an idea of the appearance of this sphinx which 
was created some 6,000 years ago. It is certainly more than 5,600 years 
old. The face bears the features of a king, probably of Amenemhat 
III of the Twelfth Dynasty. But it is not out of the question that it is 
the face of the God of the Sun. The former assumption, however, seems 
confirmed by the strangely folded kerchief which, in this form, belongs to 
the symbols of royal rank, as also the uraeus on the forehead of the 



colossus. Under its chin there is to be seen the strange artificial beard 
worn by the ancient Egyptians on festive occasions, when it was fixed to 
the chin by means of a string. In front of the breast between the fore- 
paws of the sphinx a large tablet is seen which reports in the form of a 
dialogue that King Thothmes IV, mentioned above, soon after his accession 
in 1533 B.c. ordered the colossus to be freed from the sands of the desert. 


Fig. 464. — Reconstruction of the Sphinx 

Next to the tablet, near the right fore-paw, there is the entrance of the 
temple, which has also been referred to above. Opposite to the sphinx 
there is the gigantic staircase leading down to the temple. A point worthy 
of particular notice is that the creators of the monument are very unlikely 
to have worked from a model, as the dimensions of the colossus under 
construction rendered futile any effort to compare measurements with a 
model of ordinary size. 


Of the temple buildings of antiquity that erected by King Solomon 
about 990 B.c. is fairly accurately described in the Bible (First Book 
of Kings v.-vii., Second Book of Kings xxv., Jeremiah lii., Second 
Book of Chronicles ii.-iv.), but among the details given there are none of 
interest from the point of view of the mechanical arts, except the fact 


that the temple proper was surrounded by lateral rooms which lay three 
stories high on top of each other. The Babylonian temples had one 
outstanding feature : the towers rose in terraces like steps, seven in 
number — corresponding to the sacredness of the number seven. These 
towers, called ‘ ziggurat were famous throughout antiquity. Their 
outer walls were enamelled ; the succession of colours from below upwards 
was : white, black, purple, blue, cinnabar, silver and gold. The ziggurat 
of Khorsobad near Nineveh is fairly well preserved. Its lowest terrace 
is 143 ft. long and as many wide, and is 20 ft. high. A ramp 8 ft. in width 
and 2,666 ft. in length winds round the tower up to the top. It is the 
sjDiral staircase mentioned by Herodotus (I, 181). 

The temples of the ancient Egyptians, like those of the Babylonians, 
were surrounded by walls of vast extent. These always formed an 
elongated rectangle, and had neither windows nor pillars. Within this 
wall lay the temple proper. Its roof was always horizontal, and the 
facade characterized by the hollow moulding which ran along the roof ; 
like the sides of the temple and the walls, the roof was covered with 
numerous coloured designs. An avenue of sphinxes or crio-sphinxes 
led up to the temple. The entrance was very narrow and lay between 
two pylons (see below). Several outer courts followed upon the entrance, 
and further inside there lay the main hall whose roof consisted of massive 
cross-pieces of stone resting on close columns. The remaining rooms arc 
small and narrow ; among them is the cella, in which the image of the 
deity is enshrined. The columns of the Egyptian temples are remarkable 
for their form as well as for their capitals, but technically there is nothing 
worthy of particular remark. The attention of technical experts has, 
on the other hand, been the more attracted by the pylons. As early as 
the fifteenth century b.c. the Egyptians were in the habit of arranging 
their temples in such a way that their entrance was formed by a large 
gateway, the ‘ pylon ', which was flanked by obelisks and images of gods, 
kings and other objects of worship ; it was protected by two tall towers 
which resembled the towers of a fortress. On close examination it is 
found that they are provided with two grooves running from top to 
bottom. Some ancient drawings disclose that these grooves served to 
hold high masts, to the top of which flags of various colours were hoisted. 
Some of these masts reached a considerable height ; that of the temple at 
Edfu, for example, was 100 ft. high. At first sight they seem to have been 
merely ornamental. But there are now reasons for believing that they 
served as lightning-conductors. For instance, an ancient inscription 
dating from the time of the Ptolemies {323-30 b.c.) describes the masts of 
the temple at Edfu in detail, stating that they were intended to conduct 
the lightning. Translated from the German version of Brugsch, it reads as 
follows : ‘ This is the high pylon of the god of Edfu at the throne of Horus, 
the light-bringer ; masts are arranged in pairs in order to cleave the 
thunderstorm in the heights of the heavens.' Another inscription says 
that the mast had in many cases been ‘ covered with copper pf the 
country ' in order to make them more elective. Masts of this kind 
must, indeed, have been excellent lightning-conductors. Other in- 


scriptions also state that in order to make obelisks serve as lightning- 
conductors the little pyramids placed on them, called ‘ pyramidions were 
covered with pure copper or gilt copper. 

The Hebrews, too, seem to have possessed contrivances for protecting 
themselves from the dangers of lightning. The spikes on the roofs of 
their temple were connected with chains and these were fixed to the 
capitals of two bronze columns standing near the entrance of the hall. 
The capitals ended in a water-container (First Book of Kings vii. 17, 
Second Book of Chronicles in. 17). Another document which seems to 
prove that the ancients were acquainted with lightning-conductors is 
found in Numbers xxi. 4-9 : ' And they journeyed from mount Hor by 
the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom . . . and the Lord 
sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people ; and much 
people of Israel died . . . and Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it 
upon a pole.’ Further evidence is given in the First Book of Kings vii. 
13-22 : ‘ And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre , . . and 
his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass ; and he was filled with 
wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. 
And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work. For he cast two 
pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece ; and a line of twelve cubits 
did compass either of them about. And he made two chapiters of molten 
brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars : the height of the one chapiter 
was five cubits and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits. . . . 
And upon the top of the pillars was lily work.’ This seems to justify the 
conjecture that the metallic points on top of the columns are being referred 
to as conductors. These pillars are also mentioned in the Second Book 
of Chronicles hi. 15, but the height ascribed to them is nearly double. 

‘ Also he made before the house two pillars of thirty and five cubits high, 
and the chapiter that was on the top of each of them was five cubits.’ 
It is obvious that columns of that height must have been highly efficient 
conductors. The two above passages in the Bible also contain an accurate 
description of the water-vessel which formed the earth-contact, and an 
instruction given in Exodus xxvii. 17 reads : ‘ All the pillars round about 
the court shall be filleted with silver ; their hooks shall be of silver, and 
their sockets of brass.’ 

The above Scriptural passages, taken in conjunction with some 
others (Leviticus x. 2, Numbers iii. 4, First Book of Chronicles xiii. 
9 and 10, and others), makes it evident that the ancients must 
have found out by accident that lightning is conducted by metal rods 
or that the danger of lightning is obviated by metallic contrivances. 
It is not at all necessary to Imow the electric nature of lightning to 
discover a fact of this kind. It is true that Martin and von Urbanitsky, 
as also Hennig, deny the possibility of such contrivances having been used 
before Franklin : they maintain that the texts relevant to this question 
have been wrongly interpreted. But Hennig is obliged to admit that 
the ancient facts and customs and the literary passages which suggest 
the existence of lightning-conductors among the ancients (unless they 
are wrongly interpreted of belong to the realm of meteorological super- 



stitions), ' are to be explained as an accidental and unconsciously correct 
application of Franklin’s laws concerning lightning conductors (Fie is 
referring in particular to the Temple of Jerusalem.) In our opinion there 

Figs. 465 aiid 466. — Original forms of Greek Temples 

is no doubt that the ancients, without knowing the nature of lightning, 
used protective measures against it, which they had found out to be 
effective by experience. 

Fig ‘467 — Ground- Fig. 468. — ^Templum Fig. 469. Tern- Fig. 470. — Ground- 

plan of the original i"- antis : a, cella plum in antis with plan of [the Prostyle 

Greek Temple (naos) ; 6, vestibule back vestibule : e. Temple 

(pronaos): c, columns; opisthodomiis 
d, antae 

The Greek, and later on, also the Roman temples are remarkable for 
the technical development of the columns ; this applies also to the ground- 
plan, which was influenced by the way in which the columns were placed. 

Fig. 471. — Plan of a Prostyle Temple. The temple of Jupiter at Pompeii, aa, apertures 
for admitting light into the cellar below the temple 

The oldest known temple in Olympia and in Hellas is the Heraion, the 
temple of Hera. Its columns exhibit such differences that they must be 

A [.j 


! i ) 

} 1 ! ' 1 ™ 





assumed to have consisted originally of wood and to have been gradually 
replaced by columns of stone at a later period. This assumption is con- 

Fig. 472. -Peripteral Temple Fig. 473. — Plan of the Temple of 

Apollo at Bassae : example of a 
peripteral temple 

firmed by Pausanias (V, 16, i), who at as late a time as the second cen- 
tury B.c. observed that certain ancient columns and even whole temples 
consisted of wood ( VIIL 10,2). Pliny also mentions temples with wooden 

Fig. 474. — Peripteral Temple with five frontal columns. (Temple at Thermos in Aetolia) 
111 most cases the peripteral temples have six frontal columns and double that number on the sides, including the 
columns in the corners. Figs. 473 and 474 are exceptions to this rule 

columns (XIV, 9). In point of fact the stone column evolved from the 
vertically placed wooden post which was originally used to support the 
roof. Probably it first appeared as a column of the Doric type, a sup- 
position which seems confirmed by the above-mentioned temple of Plera. 

We shall not follow the further developments of these columns from 
the artistic point of view, but shall simply consider their technical aspects, 
regarding them as the supporting elements of buildings, particularly of 
temples. We first notice that temples in their oldest forms could entirely 
dispense with columns. They consisted only of the simple cella, which 
contained nothing but the image of the deity and the sacrificial table on 
the altar for incense (Figs. 465, 466, and 467). In the next stage the 
lateral walls of the cella were extended in a forward direction and closed 
by frontal columns {antae> parasfas). The elongated lateral walls were 
covered by a roof, which was further supported by columns standing 


between the antae. In this way an open vestibule, called pronaos, was 
createdin front of the temple (Fig. 468). The ground-plan of the temple 
assumed a new characteristic form (teniplum in 
antis, the temple with antae). To make it pos- 
sible to enter the cella from the back, the rear 
part of the temple was provided, with a similar 
vestibule ; so the ground-plan became further trans- 
formed, being characterized by the back vestibule, 
the opisthodomos (Fig, 469). The next stage of 
development is the prostyle temple, in which the 
vestibule is no longer carried by walls and antae 
but entirely by columns (Figs. 470 and 471). 

The prostyle or pillared vestibule may be combined with a simple 
rectangular cella or a temple in antis. If another prostyle is added to 
the back of the temple a new form arises called / amphiprostyle '. If a 
colonnade is built right round the cella so as to form an open walk on all 

Fig. 475,— Special form 
of the Peripteral Temple 
in which the columns 
are connected with the 
lateral walls of the cella 
by low walls, thus pro- 
ducing little chapels for 
receivi ng votive offerings 

Fig. 476, — Dipteral Temple 

Fig. 477. — Pseudo-dipteral Temple 

four sides the result will be the .peripteros (Figs. 472-475), whose name 
is due to the lateral colonnades being called ' wings ' {Ttregd, e.g. the 

Fig. 478.— Ruins of a Pseudo-dipteral Temple (the/omw? triangulare at Pompeii) 
cmains of the columns and the intervals between, them allowed the type of the temple to be ascertained with 
ccnrary. The substructure is surrounded by a flight of steps, a characteristic feature of Greek temples 

Parthenon). A special form of the peripteral temple, the 'pseudo- 
peripteros ', was developed by the Romans. In it the columns no longer 


Fig. 479. — Circular Roman Temple (Monopteros), 
the ‘ Temple of the Sibyl ’ at Tivoli 

serve to support the roof of the colonnade, hut simply to simulate a 
peripteros from the front. For this purpose they are attached to the 
lateral walls as semi-columns. 

If the row of columns 
in the peripteral temple is 
doubled in such a way that 
two parallel colonnades or 
galleries are formed, a new 
type arises which is called 
dipteros or dipteral temple 
(Fig. 476), which may 
again give rise to the 
pseudodiptews (Fig. 477) in 
which the inner row of 
columns is left out. But 
in this case the empty 
space between the walls of 
the cella and the outer 
columns is as large as in a 
dipteral temple. This 
form is exemplified in the 
fomm triangulare at Pom- 
peii (Fig. 478). The Greek 
temple was orientated in 
an east-west direction in 
such a way that it was 
entered from the east, the 
image of the deity being 
placed in the western 
part. Roman temples show 
no .such orientation ; they 
were placed in any direc- 
tion. Whereas the base 
of the cella of the Greek temple always has the form of an elongated 
rectangle, the Roman cella originally covered one-half of a square, the 
other half being occupied by the vestibule. This division into two sections 
was still retained at a later age when the square was enlarged into an oblong. 
In Roman temples the threshold of the cella invariably coincided with the 
bisecting line of the ground- plan. Finally the Greek temples were bordered 
all round by a series of steps leading up to them, whereas the Roman temples 
stood on a substructure which was ascended by steps from the front only. 


Among the public buildings of the ancients the theatres held a very 
important place. Apart from the circuses and stadia, which are of little 
technical interest, there are two main kinds of theatres, namely the 
theatres proper or playhouses', and' the amphitheatres in which not only 

T.A.S .— -23 


plays but all sorts of other performanGes, such as gladiatorial combats, 
fights with animals, or naval battles, were also enacted. The playhouses 
in particular were objects of great veneration in ancient Greece. They, 
together with the temples, were regarded as the noblest buildings, and the 
drama had the importance of a divine service ; it culminated in the 
Dionysiac cult. The oldest form of the theatre must have been some- 
thing resembling an amusements park in the open air, that is, an enclosed 
lawn in which the performances took place, the spectators standing round. 

Fig. 48o.~-The Theatre of Pergamon 

Ives a clear picture of all parts of a Greek theatre. The acclivity of the hill serv 
toriura. On the tejiace at the foot of the hill the orchestra is seen ; behind it w 

foundation for the audi- 
/e the skene 

Later on a wooden platforin was raised on which the representations took 
place. In order -to make it easier for the spectators to follow the proceed- 
ings, the circular or semicircular stage, called the orchestra, was placed 
at the foot of a hill on the slopes of which the spectators stationed them- 
selves. For the comfort of the spectators seating accommodation was 
provided by digging terraces, one above another, out of the side of the hill 
so that the spectators were arranged in rows. From this stage it was but 
a step to construct the auditorium of stone. Even the oldest ruins of 
theatres preserved at Knossos show that the theatre was divided into two 


which they made their exits after their scenes. The theatre at Athens, 
dating from the fourth century b.c^ was built of stone except ih^skene, 
whose floor was still laid on woodeji , scaffoldings. The orchestra, how- 
ever, had in isolated instances been constructed of stone at an earlier 


parts : a space J'or performing the plays (the orchestra) and a space for the 
spectators [theatron) . Later a third part was added, the skene ; it w^as a 
wa:oden booth from which the actors made their entrances, and into 


period. The theatre lay at the foot of the Acropolis, part of the rock being 
used as a back wall and a foundation. But also in other parts of Greece 
there was a predilection for building theatres in rocks or against hills in 
such a way that the slopes formed a natural back wall, and at the same 
time the groundwork (Fig. 480). Generally speaking the Greek theatre 
was arranged as follows (Fig. 482) : the circular orchestra was the centre 
round which all the other parts were grouped. At about the year 400 b.c. 
the floor of the orchestra was made of earth, and in the middle of it was an 
altar, the thymele, round which the chorus moved. The orchestra was 
partly surrounded by the auditorium, which rose in the form of a horse- 
shoe on the slope of a hill or on an artificial foundation made of walls of 
different height, the intervening spaces being filled with earth. Opposite 
to the auditorium stood the skene, which derives its name from its 
originally unimposing appearance — hut, tent) ; in most cases it 

had an odd number of doors, of which the middle one was called the king’s 
door. Later on the stage space in which the drama was mainly 

enacted, was usually closed not only at the back but also on both sides by 
the structure of the skene, which was occasionally three stories high. 
Projecting parts on both sides of the skene, the paraskmia, served to hold 
between them a painted wall, the proskeniom. Subsequently the back- 
ground could be opened out by a special contrivance, the exostra or 
ekkyklema, which allowed the spectator to see what was happening inside 
the building. The theatre was entered by the parodoi, two spaces inter- 
vening between the skene and the auditorium. These parodoi also gave 
access to the orchestra. The stage had entrances at the rear and others 
at the sides of the skene. The stage could also be mounted from the front, 
but not by means of stairs as was erroneously assumed formerly, for the 
orchestra was level with the stage ^ (Dorpfeld and Reisch). The theatre 
was provided with various machinery which served not only to open up 
the back of the stage but also to work traps or to shift various pieces of 
scenery. Theatres even had wings of a kind, the periacts ; they were 
triangular wooden prisms, which turned on pivots near the paraskenia. 
The three sides were painted with different- views which were turned 
towards the auditorium according to the demands of the play. Possibly 
the pictures could even be removed from the sides of the periacts and so 
give place to still more scenes. The auditorium was divided into a 
number of blocks of tiers, kerkides, by a wide corridor, the diazoma, 
sometimes by several such corridors running parallel with the outer 
circular walls, and by stairs ascending radially from the orchestra to the 
circumference. The best seats were those nearest the orchestra or the 
diazoma ; they were reserved for the priests and persons of rank, and 
others to whom this honorary privilege, the proedria, was granted. 

The stage of the Roman theatre, like that of the Greek, was originally 
a planked scaffolding with the onlookers standing in front. Wooden 
tiers for them were not built till after the year 145 b.c. ^ The first theatre 

^ This theory is now generally abandoned, — Trans, 

® A mistake : they had been in use earlier, but had been temporarily done 
away with. — Trans. 


to consist of stone was erected by Pompey in 55 b.c. In 13 b.c. the Theatre 
of Marcellus was built, of which some ruins are still preserved. The Roman 
theatre resembled the Greek, being divided into three parts, namely, 
the space for the spectators, called cavea m Latin, the orchestray and the 
stage, called scaena. Thereis practically no essential structural difference 
between the Greek and the Roman theatres. This similarity is even seen 
in the dimensions of the stage, which is comparatively wide but not deep, 
so that its ruins show a long, narrow, rectangular ground-plan. The 
orchestra of the Roman theatre has, however, no altar, the reason for this 
being that with the Romans the drama had lost its religious quality. 
But there are some further differences : the Roman orchestra was covered 

with rows of seats for the spectators of noble rank {podium) and was thus 
very much reduced in size. As the orchestra and the stage proper were 
on a level in the Greek theatre it was difficult for the spectators on the 
orchestra to overlook the skene or the place from which the actors were 
talking. This place, the pulpitum, was therefore deepened. In addition 
the Roman stage was furnished with a curtain, the aulaeum, and the cavea 
with an awning in order to protect the spectators from the sun. In the 
Greek theatre only the skene had been covered over and possibly also 
the topmost circular gallery which ran along the outer fringe of the 
auditorium. All the rest of the, theatre was left uncovered. 

The ancient theatres were extremely large, some holding as many as 
20,000 people. The acoustics of these buildings was therefore a matter of 


great importance. Not only did the builders endeavour to make a theatre 
a, satisfactory resonance chamber as a whole, they also placed special 
bronze vessels, called echeia (.see Vitruvius, V, 5, i sqq.), in recesses ; 
these were intended to magnify the sound. Moreover, the masks of 
the actors were shaped in such a way as to strengthen the sound. The 

Fig. 483. — Plan of an open Roman Theatre (the large theatre at Pompeii) 

On the right, part of the tiers, the stage and the floor. On the left, by removing the floor we. get a view of the 
stairs, the corridors and the substructure of the stag?, t, Circular vaulted gallery ; 2, corridor ; 3, ’gallery ; 4 stairs ; 
5. e.xit ; 7, entrances of the orchestra ; 8. doors ; A, court in which the choru.s asseinbied ; b) propertv-room ; 
C, ramp ; P, the actors’ rooms ; s, stone rings for attaching the awning ; p, room in which the curtain was' folded 
.V, staircase leading to the rooms below 

point has been frequently raised how it was that these masks, which were 
after all a hindrance to the actors, continued in use for such a long time 
instead of being replaced by natural facial expression. If we consider 
the colossal size and the openness of the ancient theatres it is obvious that 
great demands were made on the human voice. No actor would have 


been able to shout through a leading part and sustain a tone which could 
be heard all over the theatre. It was soon discovered that the opened 
mouth of a mask could easily be formed into a sort of speaking-tube. 

The mouths of all ancient stage-masks are shaped in a most peculiar 
fashion. Following a suggestion by Cast ex, replicas of such masks 
were made for special acoustic experiments in which both actors and 
singers with voices of different pitches, that is, basses, sopranos and others 

Fig. 487. — ^The Colosseum, in, Rome (seen from the outside) 

Since a circular orchestra, siich as the ring of a modern circus, gives only 
limited freedom of movement^ an oval shape, as long as possible, was 


participated. A number of spectators were also engaged in order that the 
action of these masks should be thoroughly tested in every d irection . The 
very first experiments with masks revealed that to the hearers the intcn.sity 
of the human voice appeared strikingly increased. Words spoken in a 
low voice without a mask were found to be unintelligible to the audience, 
but when a mask was applied the words were easily understood in all 
parts without the speaker increasing his efforts. Further, the voice 
became more distinct. This result was considerably more marked in the 
case of tones of higher pitch. The tone was neither blurred nor did it 
acquire a nasal quality through the mask. The peculiar formation of its : 
mouth caused the sound to be conveyed with increased intensity not 
only towards the front but also tow>^ards the sides of the auditorium. The 
actor at once felt in his voice a sensation of increased carrying power. 
Pie found the simple face-masks to be acoustically superior to the animal 
masks which covered the whole head and which caused a buzzing sensa- 
tion. The result of these experiments all point to the conclusion that the 
actors of antiquity were well aware of the advantages gained by the use of 
the mask. 


The amphitheatre consists of two theatres placed together, or we may 
regard it as an orchestra entirely surrounded by tiers for the spectator^. 



adopted. This led to the characteristic ground- plan of the amphitheatre, 
which, on account of its shape, could not always be built against a liill (ef, 
Figs- 393. 4^9 ^ind 490). 

Fig. 490.— -Section of the Amphitheatre at Treves (built against tlie slope of a hill 

The auditorium was therefore supported on pillars and walls, and in 
this way extensive corridors running around the building were formed 

Fig. 491. — ^View of the Amphitheatre of Verona 

below; these pillars frequently reached a considerable height (Figs. 
487, 492, and 493). Cages for the wild animals w^ere fixed underneath 


the lowest seats, or in annexes. The lowest circle of seats was generally 
separated from the arena by a wall which was insurmountable by the wild 

Fig. 493. — Corridor and But- 
tress underneath the Audi- 
torium of the Amphitheatre 
at Verona 

Fig. 492. — Surrounding Wall of the Amphitheatre 
at Verona 

animals and which sometimes carried a railing in addition. In many 
amphitheatres the arena was undermined by a number of cellars which 

-Plan of the Cellars and the Machinery of the Amphitheatre at Tr6ves 
ain room for the machinery. _ In D and F large round holes for holding posts. In D, remains « 
asisting of beams and cross-pieces. In front of them a wooden lifting device. In the corridor C 
chambers for draining the cellars 


enabled the whole or part of it to be placed under water for aquatic 
displays (Colosseum at Rome). The cellars were made either by sinking 

Fig. 495. — Cellar (den ?) underneath the Amphitheati'e at Treves 

shafts into the soil (Metz) or by cutting them laboriously out of the solid 
rock, as was the case at Trfeves, where some of the cellars are as deep as 
15 ft. (Figs. 494 and 495). 

Fig. 496. — Details of the Masonry sanrounding the Amphitheatre at Verona 

The ceiling, on which the arena rested, was supported by strong wooden 
posts. Special arrangements werb provided in the amphitheatre for 



draining oft' the water w'hicli had been used during the performances. At 
Treves a canal 330 ft. long and 7 ft. deep leads into the Olewig brook. In 
most cases the amphitheatres also had special rooms for the machinery 
which lay underneath the arena and was used for working the traps 
opening the water- containers and for other purposes no longer exactly 
known (Fig. 494). The gigantic size of those amphitheatres is common 
knowledge ; the Colosseum at Rome held some'’45, 000-50, 000 spectators. 


As regards dimensions and grandeur of conception the baths which are 
likewise to be found in practically all the Roman settlements are hardly 
second to the amphitheatres. At the time of greatest luxury these baths 

or thermae formed a whole group of buildings containing a great number 
of rooms whose exact uses can in many cases hardly be ascertained 
nowadays (Figs. 497-511). But the essential parts, alike in these and 
in the smaller baths, of earlier date or in provincial towns, are as follows : 
the undressing-room or apodyierium, the cold bath or frigidanum, the 
steam-bath or caldarium, sudatorium, and a tepid room, the tepidarium, 
in which the bathers stayed on coming from the hot room. Other 
essential parts are the arrangements for heating, which have been dis- 
cussed in the section on ‘ Lighting and Heating ’. None of these rooms 
showed technical peculiarities except in smaller practical details. For 
example, the bathers could easily catch cold from any draught in the 
baths. For this reason the door-posts of the thermae at Pompeii are 
inclined in order that doors left open may close automatically by their own 
weight and so obviate draughts and make it impossible for the heat to 
escape from the caldarium. In the hot-room the seats were made of 



wood, as stone benches would have conducted away too nnieli heat. 
No ])a.intings have been found anywhere in the thermae ; this]u-ov('s that 
the Romans rightly distrusted the durability and covering pf)wer of tlic 
paint in the damp heat. 

Concerning the uniform distribution of heat in the hot-room and 
the method of regulating it, Vitruvius makes the following statements 

(V, 10): 

I ' The Hweating-bath.s must adjoin the tepid room, and their height lo the bottom 

I of the curved dome should be equal to their width. Let an apt'rture be left in the 

I middle of the dome with a bronze disc hanging from it by chains. By raising and 

I lowering it, the temperatjre of the sweating-bath can be regulated. The ('.liamber 

I itself ought, as it seems, to be circular, so. that the force of the fire and heat may 

I spread evenly from the centre all round the circumference.’ 

I'To. 498. — Plan of the large Thermae at Pompeii (Stabian Thermae) 

A", Main entrance ; A, vestibule ; BB'B", colouiraiie running round the palaestra ; C, the court for physical exe 
cise; D, apodyteriuin ; K, room; F, frigidarium; G, room; VI, apodyteriuni ; VII, tepidarimn ; VIII, caidariiui 
IX, heating apparatus 

On the whole the arrangement of these thermae is comparatively simple, like that of the ‘ Small Thermae ’. Compa 
them with the great Roman thermae built by Agrippa, Diocletian, Caracalla and Titus (Figs. 497, 504, sofi-oii), whii 
exhibit such grandeur of conception and magnificence of design 


li\j All!.! i Ii! I ’ 

it'll 1 j"Js ^1 ' 



-Plan of the ‘ Small Thermae ’ at Pompeii 

, 2, 3, entrances to men’s baths ; A, internal court ; d, lavatory ; c, 
/, exedra .(resting-room with benches) ; C, cold bath (frigidariiun) ; 
G, tepidariuni ; H, apodyterium ; J, frigidarium ; K, court ; L 

Fig. 501. 

A-E, men’s baths ; F-J, women’s baths ; a, i 
corridor ; B, undressing room (apodyterium) : 
D, tepidariuni ; E; caldarium ; F, caldariurn 

-Vertical section tlirough the Caldarium of the men's baths in the ' Small 
Thermae ’ at Pompeii 



Fig. 508, — Ground-plan of the Thermae of Caracalla in Rome 

The ground-plan reveals the comple.x yet well-balanced design of the main, budding. The thermae represent a little 
city in themselves, covering an area of about 27 acres. The purpose of the individual rooms has not been established 
with certainty. Nevertheless all the essential features characteristic of Roman thermae have been found, viz. : oppo- 
site the entrances, situated on both sides at 23, there is a palaestra (47), (wrestling-school), a large caldarium (12), a 
frigidariuin also of great size, besides numerous dressing-rooms and a large tepidarium (this last has been questioned). 
The functions to be assigned to the other parts of this great construction have been discussed on various occasions, 
but no definite conclusions have been arrived at which are worth mentioning here. The thermae had accommodation 
for 1,600 bathers and were most luxuriously equipped. Even at the present day their ruins (Figs. 509, 510) make 
a deep impression on the beholder and still allow us to recognize among other things the profusion of domed vaulting, 
the numerous arches, and the lavish use of marble and other costly building materials. A great many works of art 
have been found there. The whole was surrounded by a wall which also enclosed numerous other buUdingssuch as 
a .stadium and a swimming-bath. The construction of the Thermae of Garacalla was begun in a.d, aia 



-Ruins of the Thermae of Caracal la 

-Another view of the Thermae of Caracalla 

Fig, 51 1. — Ground-plan of the Thermae of Agrippa (Reconstruction, cf. Fig. 507) 


Basilicas must also be classified as public buildings. Their name is 
derived from ^aadevc;, -which means 'king’. In Greece the original 
meaning was ‘ royal hall ’. In Rome the basilicas did not appear till 
a later period, when the first building of this kind was erected by M. 
Porcius Cato in 184 b.c. The basilicas were not always used for the same 
purpose. Originally they may have been a simple sort of market-hall 
or exchange, but later on they became places of assembly and judgment- 
halls ■ A special section was partitioned off for the tribunal, or raised or 
built on in the form of an apse. The Romans seem to havejDeen very fond 
of vi.siting the basilicas or loitering about in their neighbourhood. Some 
evidence of this propensity is given by figures used in a board game which 
have been found scratched on the steps of Roman basilicas and probably date 
from ancient Roman times; this is further supported by Vitruvius’ advice 
that basilicas should be built in the warmest place of the forum. Rome, 
Pompeii and many other cities possessed several basilicas, of which only 
comparatively scanty ruins remain, besides, we are by no means sure that all 

Fig. 513. — Cross-section through the Basilica of Pompeii 

the buildings supposed nowadays to have been basilicas actually belonged 
to that category. Concerning the construction of basilicas we are entirely 
dependent on their ruins and the description by Vitruvius. Besides giving 


Ms opinion on the most favourable position for basilicas mentioned above, 
tbflt they should be oblong in shape and of certain dimensions. 

' In breadth they should 
be not less than one third, 
nor more than one half of 
their length ' ( V, i , 4) . The 
interior should have two 
rows of columns one above 
the other ; the lower, sup- 
porting the side galleries, 
should be larger than 
the columns of the upper 
row. The basilica should 
be constructed in such a 
way that people standing 
in the galleries cannot be 
seen from below, and that 
people near the tribunal, 
which is placed on one of the narrow sides, do not disturb those in 
other parts of the building. All these and other requirements have been 
complied with in the basilica of Pompeii, further details of which are to be 
seen in a reconstruction by Lange, and in the ground-plan (Figs. 512-515). 

Fig. 514. — Probable appearance of the Basilica of 



I N the earliest times the various ways of building were intimately con- 
nected with the stage of advancement of the human dwelling, and it 
was not till considerable progress had been made in construction that 
the methods practised in the case of large buildings became dissociated 
from those used for houses. In all probability the first dwelling was a 
round tent made of animal skins. Out of it arose the first fixed abode, the 
hut, which was likewise circular. With a view to dividing its interior into 
several rooms the base of the hut was gradually extended, assuming an 
oval form, and from this the rectangular form finally evolved. This course 
of development determined the character of the buildings and the methods 
of construction. The work was at first carried out in such a way and with 
such materials as were required for a round building. Twigs and straw, 
rushes, or field-stones simply piled up could easily be adapted to the circular 
form. Similarly clay could be used alone or in combination with the 
above materials for circular or oval structures. When civilization had 
progressed as far as the stage of the rectangular hut, new kinds of edifices 
appeared, namely the log-hut and the house with timber-framing, that is, 
with nogging or baywork, which gradually led to structures of stone and 
similar material. 

No trustworthy record has reached us about the most primitive 
dwellings of prehistoric times, that is, of the huts built of reed, straw or 
rushes. We can only infer, from the similarly built dwellings of the 
primitive tribes of our own times, that the blades of the long-stalked 
plants above mentioned were woven together, stiffened by means of 
palings and coated with clay in order to make the walls impenetrable to 
wind and rain. 

Willow wands, twigs and such like were also used instead of long 
blades. To give the clay greater consistency it was mixed with chopped 
straw, awns of cereals, or pine needles ; if no clay was to be had moss 
was packed into the hurdle-work. Foundations were unknown, and the 
supporting stakes were simply rammed into the ground. 


As the form of human dwellings changed, endeavours were made to 
render them firmer and more lasting. This aim was achieved by reducing 
the hurdle-work and increasing the supports ; the stakes became more 
and more numerous and the relative area of rushwork became progres- 



sively smaller. Thus the log hut gradually evolved ; its mode of con- 
struction allowed an entrance that could be made more solid by the 
introduction of a proper door-frame and a threshold. As the stakes 
standing directly in the ground rotted in the course of time and so entailed 
a general loosening of the structure, the builders began to avoid fixing 
them in this way or erecting the houses directly on the ground, which was 
often damp. A solid layer of dry stones, the foundation, was interposed 
between the ground and the building. In this way the log-dwelling arose, 
which possessed practically all the essential components of the later house ; 
it had windows and even woodwork for carrying the roof, which was made 
of straw, reed, turf or small thin laths (shingles). At first the rafters 
were round and hollowed out only at the joints. Later on they were cut 
square, so that the structure acquired rigidity, and irregularities of the 
joints were averted. The separate parts of the building were connected 
simply by their own weight, or by notches in the beams or by binding. 
The roof may have been weighted with stones. Nails did not appear till 
later, perhaps only when baywork came into existence. The first nails 
were made of wood. 

If we consider that even at the present day, in our age of highly 
developed technical science, there are still huge log-houses with shingled 
roofs weighted by stones in Upper Bavaria, the Tyrol and in Switzerland, 
there can be no doubt that this form of dwelling must have been used 
by many ancient peoples throughout their history. Traces of them have 
mostly disappeared, the wood having rotted in the course of time, but 
post-holes in the ground filled with rotten wood or coloured brown by it, as 
well as other remains, still bear witness to the actual existence of 
primitive or more elaborate wooden buildings in bygone ages. 

It is also possible to form a conception of ancient timber- work from 
other sporadic accounts. It appears that the Jews above all other peoples 
erected wooden buildings in large numbers and succeeded in making 
them of great architectural beauty. In the Bible the carpenter is called 
the man ‘ who builds the house ' and a great many Biblical similes relate 
to carpentry. Even apart from Noah's Ark, which was completely made 
of deal, it is to be assumed that Solomon's Temple, according to the 
descriptions given in the Bible (First Book of Kings vi.-vii., Second Book 
of Chronicles ii.-iv., Jeremiah xv., and so forth), was built of wood of the 
most precious kinds. Only the foundations were of stone, as is seen from 
the First Book of Kings v. 17 : ‘ And the king commanded, and they 
brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation 
of the house.' Similarly the foundation of the inner court seems, to have 
been of the same material : ‘ And he built the inner court with three rows 
of hewed stone and a row of cedar beams ' (i Kings vi. 36). On the inside 
the walls were specially lined with boards, that is, they were wainscoted 
(i Kings vi. 9, 15). The roof was made of I'afters ; ' and covered the 
house with beams and boards of cedar . . . and he built the walls of 
the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and 
the walls of the ceiling : and he covered them on the inside with wood, 
and covered the. floor of the house with planks of fir '. Surveying these 


facts we can hardly be wrong in assuming from the Biblical descriptions 
that Solomon’s temple was a supreme example of ancient Jewish archi- 
tecture in wood, for the construction of which an immense quantity of 
timber was used— in all probability a huge log-house made of hewn 
timbers, wainscoted on the inside and richly decorated with carving. Even 
the supporting columns, which stood on a foundation of stone, seem to 
have consisted of wood. The Tabernacle of the Lord, which we may 
regard as a model of the Jewish dwelling, was also a wooden structure 
reminiscent of the tents used in nomadic times. The walls of the 
Tabernacle were 50 by 17 ft. and 17 by 17 ft. They consisted of vertical 
boards each of which stood on two silver feet and was joined to its neigh- 
bours by mortises. Each board being 2 ft. 6 in, wide, twenty boards were 
needed for a side- wall and six for the back wall of the sanctum. In the 
corners there were pairs of posts, clamped together at the top and bottom, 
to which these boards were attached, and five horizontal rafters were dove- 
tailed into these corner-posts. These rails were passed through golden 
rings which were screwed into the boards. The material used was gilt 
wood from the locust-tree. For the rest, it appears that the shortage of 
wood which occurred very early in Palestine put an end to the ancient 
Jewish custom of constructing wooden buildings, for even Solomon, who 
for the last time followed the ancient tradition in its most elaborate form, 
had to import the wood for his Temple from great distances. His own 
palace, however, he ordered to be built ‘of stone (First Book of Kings vii.), 


Whether it was also the shortage of wood or simply technical considera- 
tions which led man to abandon the log-house in favour of the house with 
timber framing, or whether both reasons were involved, may be left an 
open question. At any rate the ancients must have observed that the 
stability of a building did not depend so much on the number of beams 
'used as on the way in which they were joined, and the door-frame must 
have taught them that a solid timber frame capable of standing severe 
strains is formed by the combination of a horizontal threshold, upright 
posts and a lintel placed on top of them. Whether a frame of this kind 
is afterwards filled with loam, hurdle-work, woodwork, brick or stone is 
irrelevant. Thus it was due to a simple technical observation or perhaps 
to a shortage of wood and the subsequent endeavour to economize in this 
material that the frame-building came into being ; its essential character- 
istics were the same in antiquity as to-day. The threshold, the lowest 
course of rafters, serves also as the foundation of the whole building. 
Other wooden rafters, the stays or props, rise up vertically from it ; they 
are joined together by horizontal beams, the ' rails ’, and by oblique struts, 
the ' dragon-beams ’. In this way isolated panes or bays of rectangular 
.shape are formed, which are filled in with some weaker material. Another 
important new feature of the frame-building is the complete separation of 
the roof from the walls, each becoming an independent part of the 


If we leave aside monuments, public buildings, and the residences of 
the rich, and if we leave out of account districts in which the shortage of 
wood or an abundance of suitable stone caused people to erect buildings 
only of stone, we come to the conclusion that the timber-frame house is the 
most widespread kind of building in antiquity. At the time of the Empire 
it was still extremely popular in Rome, according to Friedlander, and 
although stone buildings are fairly common in , the south it is unlikely 
that they predominated over frame houses. In the north, however, the 
frame construction was naturally adopted, as all the necessary material, 
wood and loam, were at hand in superabundance. Roman forts were 
mostly built in this way, sometimes on a stone foundation. This is 

almost certainly true of the 
^ houses in cities like Treves and 

architectural buildings like temples 
were originally constructed with 
framework, when the building in 
wood alone had been superseded. 
@1 II 1 "I'he Heraion at Olympia, the 

1 1 most ancient Greek temple, men- 

tioned above, was made partly _ of 

consisted' of stone. For buildings 
H^pP which stood in the interior of 

Fig. 5i0._Timber-work in the Temple of fortifications and were not 
Thermos in Aetolia, faced with clay slabs directly exposed to enemy attacks, 

baywork or brickwork was pre- 
ferred. But attempts were made at a very early period to give the bay- 
work the appearance of stone by coating it with loam or limestone, and 
ornamenting it elaborately on the outside. Decorating frame-buildings 
was very popular in Greece, , as is seen from the ancient temple of 
Thermos in Aetolia, which is constructed of timber-work and clay tiles, 
and is decorated with painted clay slabs which add to its stability. 

‘ Above the epistylium, the beam that lies over the columns, 'says Lamer, 

‘ clay-slabs W’-ere placed as metopes, separated by vertically grooved 
triglyphs. Above them lies the gutter. The t5q)ical ancient painting on 
the left of Fig. 516 represents Perseus with winged shoes, and the metope 
on the right represents goddesses on their thrones.' It was stated above 
(p. 351), that the column originated in timber, the first being the Doric 
column. The Heraion at Olympia is not the only evidence in support of 
this. To judge from the form of the capital even the Egyptian column 
seems to have evolved gradually from the carved wooden beam. 



Lik(^ tlie columns, so the roofs in their later form seem to have been a 
result of the practice of building in wood. Originally the roof was conical 
like the tent covering from which it had developed. Its various parts 
rested on a scaffolding of poles or rafters which were tied together at a 
point vertically over the centre of the base. The scaffolding itself lay 
on the circular wall of the dwelling. When the ground-plan of the hut 
became rectangular, the roof also changed its circular form into that of a 
rectangle, the tent-form being preserved while the cone became a sort of 
pyramid with a ridge-piece to which all the laths of the scaffold converged. 
But the timber-frame building later allowed the construction of gabled 
roofs. As the walls were entirely independent there was no difficulty 
in keeping the front and back walls low, while raising the side-walls right 
up to the edge of the gable. The triangular gables became the carriers of 

Fig. 517. — Greek Gabled Roof 
From a votive relief dedicated to Dionysos (Museo Nazionale at Naples) 

the roof and formed an integral part of the frame-construction. Yet, in 
spite of its simplicity, the gabled roof did not occur as frequently in 
antiquity as might be expected. Both in Greece and in Rome roofs were 
mostly flat or pyramidal, like tents, the reason being that the gabled roof 
was with few exceptions a privilege reserved for the residences of the gods. 
Assyrian temples, as well as King Solomon’s temple were crowned with 
gabled roofs ; they were also an ornamental feature of Greek and Roman 
temples. The building regulations were so strict that even during the last 
years of the Roman republic a special senatorial decree was necessary to 
grant Julius Caesar the honour of having a gabled roof. The structure 
of the Greek gabled roofs, of which the timber frame has in no case with- 
stood complete decay, is clearly delineated on a votive relief dedicated to 
Dionysos in a group called ‘ Dionysos visiting Ikarios’, wffiich is kept at 
the Museo Nazionale at Naples. The gables are bordered by ledges. On 
the long sides the lower ends of the square rafters are seen projecting 
from the wall. These rafters carry woodwork on which the tiles rest 
(Fig. 517). 

Two kinds of tiles are to be distinguished : the flat tiles which were 
simple plates with both sides turned upwards, and the capping tiles which 


were either semi-cylindrical or of a gable shape. When the flat tiles were 
laid close to each other on the wooden frame of the roof with their crockets 
hooked on to the transverse laths and with the joints formed by their 
upturned edges covered by capping tiles, a roofing was formed which was 


Fig. 518. — ^Eaves, Mouldings and Ridge of the Treasury at Gela 



absolutely rain-proof. The water flowed over the capping tiles into the 
grooves formed by the flat tiles. Instead of fastening the tiles by means 
of crockets the transverse laths of the roof were sometimes covered with 
boards, and the boards were coated with a layer of loam on which the 
tiles were laid (Figs. 419 and 440). The oldest known frame building 
of the Greeks, the Heraion at Olympia, was covered with a tiled roof, 
I'he timber- work of the roof did not always project from the walls. Re- 
mains of the eaves-mouldings on the treasury at Gelashow that in certain 
cases the rafters of the- roof terminated in specially elaborated mould- 
ings ornamented with terra cotta or otherwise (Fig. 518). The ridge of 
the roof was supported by a massive transverse beam. In order to pro- 
tect this beam and the laths ending upon it, the ridge was covered all along 
with a series of capping-like tiles which were often artistically worked. 
The Roman gabled roof was very much like the Greek, and Vitruvius 
has therefore nothing new to tell us in his lengthy description (IV, 2) 
apart from a few details about the props of the timber-work. 


Whereas the wooden building steadily evolved from a lattice- work of 
rushes to a structure with a timber frame, no similar development can be 
traced in stone buildings. Formerly it was held that the Cyclopean walls 
discussed below were older than the walls which consist of horizontal 
courses, but no convincing evidence of this has been adduced. Nor are the 
arguments sound which are based on the differences in the joints of the 
masonry, in the measurements of the blocks, and the role played by the 
horizontal line. When the stone within easy reach split off in parallel 
strata the masonry constructed with it naturally would not be Cyclopean, 
but would consist of horizontal layers ; in the same way, walls with 
polygonal blocks were built simultaneously with walls of square blocks. 
The walls of the ruined citadel of Mycenae, for example, are of Cyclopean 
masonry, whereas parts of the wall in the neighbourhood of the Lion-gate 
are of another construction and the corners of the encircling wail are again 
different. At any rate the Cyclopean masonry ranks among the oldest 
kind of walls. It was made by placing crude unhewn blocks beside and 
on top of each other without using cement. The intervening spaces 
were filled up with smaller stones. Walls of this kind, often constructed 
of enormous blocks, aroused the astonishment even of the ancients at a 
time when they were no longer made. This was the case with the walls of 
Tiryns, which resemble towering masses of rock ; they are mentioned by 
Homer and Hesiod. Pausanias (second century a.d.), filled with the 
greatest wonder at the sight of therd, writes ; ' The wall, all that is left of 
the ruins of the city, is a work of the Cyclopes and built of unhewn stones, 
each of which is so large that a yoke of mules would be incapable of 
moving even the smallest of them in the least. In bygone times small 
stones had been placed in the gaps between, them in order to connect them 
as far as pos.sible ’ ( 1 1 , 25 , 8) . Concerning the way in which such walls were 
raised, we are entirely left to conjectures. It is probable that the inclined 



plane played a part in the work of construction. With the aid of such an 
arrangement, a kind of ramp, or possibly also slides manipulated by an 
enormous number of workmen, these rocks may have been piled up 
on the walls. Various investigators, who have attempted to solve the 
problem of these walls, have suggested the use of the strangest devices, 
involving levers and lifting contrivances, and have given directions for 
building, but there is no evidence to support any of them and they all 
seem highly impossible. Judging from the facts actually known to us 
concerning ancient craftsmanship, we are bound to arrive at the same 
conclusion as was stated in the chapter on ' Technical Mechanics and 
Machines’, namely that these gigantic tasks were accomplished with the 
simplest of mechanical means, but with the expenditure of an immense 
amount of human labour and time. 

Polygonal Masonry is characterized by the form of the stones used. 
The sides of crude stones were superficially hewn in such a way that the 
original shape was more or less preserved, the result being irregular 
polygons of unequal sides. These blocks were then placed beside each 
other in such a way that their joins fitted as close as possible. Practically 
no mortar was used, the structure holding together by the weight of the 
stones. Polygonal masonry has been found in numerous places in the ruins 
of Corinth, Mycenae and Ostia, in Epirus, Oiniadai in Akarnania and others. 
Some of these walls seem to have been executed with such care and 
industry that no trace of horizontal courses is observable. In others 
again, such as the huge walls at Norba, polygonal blocks were used, but 
they were all arranged in horizontal layers, or in such a way that the 
polygonal network was interrupted by horizontal lines, separating the layers. 

A third kind of masonry is produced by using ashlar (square-hewn 
stones) ; which have the advantage of giving absolute stability irrespective 
of the dimensions of the stones used. The stability is due to the carrying 
surface being very large and fully utilized. Although a great many in- 
stances of ancient ashlar masonry are only preserved in ruins, the reason for 
this is not due to a lack of resisting power. Structures of this kind would 
have endured unaltered till our day in all the regions which have not 
suffered from earthquakes, if their stones had not been removed and 
used for new buildings. In many districts, above all in Rome, ancient 
ashlar structures served as quarries from which the building material was 
extracted during the Middle Ages. Like Cyclopean masonry, walls com- 
posed of ashlar were made without cement — ^they consisted simply of piled- 
up blocks of stone, sometimes fastened with cramp-irons. For this purpose 
incisions were made in the contiguous surfaces of the blocks, into which 
iron bars were inserted ; the gaps left were then filled up with molten 
lead. In addition to these horizontal cramps vertical iron dowels were 
used by the Greeks for consolidating walls and preventing a lateral shear- 
ing of the courses. The dowel was fixed with lead into a hole which had 
been cut into the centre of the upper surface of the lower stones; 
it projected vertically from the surface and fitted loosely into the 
corresponding hole in the centre of the lower surface of the next stone 
above. The upper hole was not sealed with lead. Two neighbouring 



stones were clasped horizontally by means of cramp-irons as follows : a 
deep horizontal groove was chiselled into the communicating upper 
surf aces and a double T-shaped cramp iron laid into it. A rim of clay was 
then placed round the edge of the groove and in this way a kind of trough 
was formed, which was filled wnth liquid lead so as to cover completely the 
iron cramp. The clay rim was then removed and the block of lead pro- 
jecting from the stones reduced in such a way that it filled into a corres- 
ponding groove in the lower surface of the stones above. Numerous 
ancient structures still extant prove that walls consolidated in this way 
have been able to survive thousands of years. The successive tambours 
of large columns were fastened in a similar way, i.e. with iron and lead. 
In many Attic buildings these are grappled with a wooden dowel, which is 
fixed into cedar plugs of which one 
belongs to an upper and one to a lower 
surface. Frequently the dowel is so 
weak that its purpose can only have 
been to connect two tambours of a 
column so as to make them fit together 
accurately. In this case the tambours 
could be made to rotate around their 
dowel. Otherwise the parts were 
joined by means of peculiar iron plugs 
fixed with lead into holes in the tam- 
bours of the columns. The plug 
became narrower towards the middle, 
so as to project wedge-like on both 
sides from the lead stopper. First the 
plug was fixed into the upper tambour, 
which was then placed on the tam- 
bour below. The latter had been 
provided with a hole, for receiving the 
thole projecting from the periphery of 
the column to the hole. The groove 
widened as it approached the hole. 

A clay funnel was then introduced into 
the groove between the two tambours, and lead was poured through it 
into the hole around the plug. 

A well-preserved example of this kind of treenailing is seen in the 
' Juppiter-column ' in the Rdmisch-Germanisches Museum at Mayence. 
Ashlar masonry, however, as well as brickwork, was sometimes 
cemented, the material being mortar (see section ‘ Building Materials '). 

Ashlaring was accomplished either by using blocks of equal size with 
regularly alternating joints — ^this kind of masonry was called isodomum : 
examples are seen on the left of Fig. 520 and in the two bottom rows of 
Fig. 539 — or the blocks differed in size, making courses of unequal height 
{pseudo-isodonmm, Figs, 519, 521, 523, 527, also the substructure of 
Fig. 541). 

The thicker walls were frequently made of some cheaper 

Fig. 519. — Pseudo-isodomum. Section 
of the masonry in the cellar of one of 
the buildings in Saalburg 


material such as brick, which was then faced with ashlar. 

brickwork and the facing were combined to form a whole by prismatic 

5-^3- — 'Cast' Masonry in the Forum Civile at Pompeii 
The front -waW shovfs opus ‘pseutio'isociomnm a.nA reticmlatum 

bodies entered the wall perpendicularly to the facing (Fig. 520). Ashlar 

Fig. 520, -Poman Wall, consisting of brickwork inside (seen on the right) and ashlar 
facing {isodomum, on the right) shortened by means of bond-stones 

Casale Rotondo on the Appian Way 

G. 521. — Corner of a House made of Fig. 522 . — Opus incertum or antiquum 

hewn stone (Saalburg) 

bond-stones whose heads lay in the outer surface of the wall, whereas the 

fiBMi'." "" ^.p^, ii,-iri, ^ -p.^ f-y~sPi I ^ 

i BgrTTiiir^ 


was further used for constructing the corners of 
522) or for making in- 
sertions in isolated parts 

is met with especially in 
Roman buildings, of 
which it is characteristic. 

It is very durable, 
though it is apt to crack ii^^. 

(Vitruvius). The method ^24- 

of production was very 


simple. A box was made 
of boards to exactly the 
same dimensions as the 
wall to be erected. Mor- 
tar and broken stones of 
all sizes were then bat- 
tered into it. As soon as 
the whole had become 
hard the boards were re- 
moved and the new wall 
was embellished with plas- 
ter. Traces of the boards 
are still recognizable in 
places where the plaster 
has fallen away from the 
opus inceftum. 

Apart from the 

Fig. 525. — Opus reticulatum 

The guest-rooms in Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli 

material used this method ! 
is very much like the 
modern way of making 
concrete. In order to 
render the opus incertum 
more durable, permanent 
outer walls of ashlar, brick 
or marble were made 
instead of the boards ; they 
served as lining walls, into 
the gaps between which 
the mixture of stones and 
mortar (Fig. 523) was 
then cast. Finally these lining walls were grappled with braces which 

Fig. 526. — Opus spicatum 

Fpom a Roman tiled floor in the Deutsches Museum at Munich 

Fig. 528. — ^Masonry consisting of 
Stone with binding courses of Brick 
Oil the right at tlie back the masonry has 
been replaced by darker courses of bride 



thus connected all three constituent parts of the wall, namely, the two 
walls and the packing. 

ypus incertum had not a very handsome appearance unless it 
was hidden behind the lining 
walls, a new kind of cheap 
masonry, the opus reticulatum 
or ‘ network ' (Figs. 524 and 
525) was introduced, where- 
ever ashlaring would have 
been too expensive. Small 
cubical stones were joined in 
such a way that they did not 
rest on one of their sides but 
were supported on an edge at 
the lowest parts. Compara- 

ment) however, were thus created 

with a distinct tendency to 
give way under the oblique pressure from above. For this reason the opus 
reticulatum with all its handsome and attractive design was not very 
lasting. Another kind of Roman masonry was the opus spicatum, a variety 
of the reticulatum. In this the individual courses of stones were placed 
upon each other like the grains in an ear of corn (Figs. 526 and 527). 

In the ancient art of building brickwork played a very important part 
and is found among practically all the peoples of antiquity, either in the 
form of pure brick buildings or associated 
with other methods of building. The 
Romans above all achieved great results 
in this field of work. They succeeded in 
constructing with nothing but brick huge 
vaults which seem likely to last for 
ever. Even at the present day the crafts- 
manship of the Roman builders in this 
field is attested by the cupola of the Pan- 
theon, the colossal vaultings of the basil- 
ica of Constantine in Rome, the thermae 
of Diocletian and many other struc- 
tures. Strong spandrel-bracketings of 
beams and planks were used, over which 
the bricks were built in regular layers. 
The greatness of the achievement, how- 
ever, does not consist in the use of these cradlings, but in the correct 
calculation of the vaulting and the uniform distribution of the pressure 
acting on the vaults and the walls carrying them. 


The art of constructing vaults was known to the Assyrians and 
Babylonians as early as 
4000 B.c. This is shown 
by the excavations which 
were promoted by the 
University of Chicago. But 
despite the fact that the 
knowledge of the art 
spread to other peoples, it 
seems to have been lost in 
the course of time. The 
early Greeks did not know 
it ; they built only hori- 
zontal ceilings. If wide 
openings had to be roofed 
over they were covered 
with horizontal beams of 
wood or stone, on top of 
which was placed the 
ceiling or roof proper. 

This primitive method 
naturally restricted the 
size of the rooms that 
could be built. The de- 
sire to build large halls led 
to the use of an increasing 
number of uprights for 
supporting the roof-beams ; as a result, however, the cover-space was 
again reduced. The Hall of the Mysteries at Eleusis, for example, 
contains seven rows of six columns each ; in the 
municipal hall at Megalopolis the columns were 
arranged radially. When the Greeks first started 
building cupolas they constructed pseudo-vaults : 
a typical example is the so-called treasury of 
Atreus at Mycenae, which was apparently the ante- 
chamber of a king's tomb (Fig. 539). A cupola- 
shaped space 50 ft. high and 50 ft. in diameter 
was created in the following way : 33 hori- 

zontal layers of stone were piled up in concentric 
circles upon the impost of the cupola and made 
to corbel out till they met in the centre of the 
topmost course. Similar pseudo-vaults have also 
been discovered in the East, for instance in Chal- 
daean tombs such as the sepulchral vault at Mugheir, 
in which the walls are slightly inclined outwards, and carry at the top the 
pseudo-vault , which is CO veredin its narrowest part s by brick-plat es (Fig. 530) . 

529. — Pseudo-vault at Mycenae, called the 
Treasure-house of Atreus 

Fig. 530. — Chaldean 
Pseudo - vault in the 
Sepulchre at Mugheir 


In Greece the real art of constructing vaults is first exemplified by the 
erection of the arches over the Acarnanian town-gates. An early archway 

Fig. 532. — ^Vaulted Ceiling, consisting 
of several layers, in the imperial 
palace at Treves 

Fig. 531. — ^Vault made of wedge- 
shaped Stones 

Supposed to toe a heating gallery. From the 
small Roman theatre at Verona 

of this kind is the gate of the Holy 
Road at Palaeros. It is a joint-cut vault 
made of stones which are wedge-shaped. 
They are not all entirely alike, but 
structure which is of sufficient stability to carry the 
weight of the partly pre- 

■ served ceiling even to-day. 

The difficulty seems to 
have been to connect the 
cuneiform stones with the 
neighbouring stones of the 
wall. But it was over- 
come by a very irregular 
joint-cut and by inserting 
polygonal stones. Even 
some of the wedge-shaped 
stones are polygonal at 
the top. The arched gate 
at Palaeros is likely to 
have been built in the 
fifth century B.c. 

Among the buildings 
of the ancient Romans 
there are arches and vaults 
of every description. Be- 
sides those made of wedge- 
shaped stones (Fig. 531) 
there are frequently to be 
found vaulted ceilings con- 
sisting of several parallel 
arches lying one above 
another, as is seen from vertical sections (Fig. 532). Often the stones 

Fig. 533. — Barrel-vault made of irregular Stones 
Corridor in the cellars of the Thermae at Trdves. The joints of the 
vault and the lateral walls are worthy of particular note 

I p-' 


used, and the layers made with them, are very irregular, particularly 
where they join the lateral walls (Fig. 533). A very remarkable feature 
of Roman buildings commonly met with is the superposition of arches 
one. above another such as in amphitheatres (Fig. 487, 492), aqueducts, 
in the imperial palace at Treves (Fig. 534), and many other places. 
They disclose too the extensive knowledge of the Romans concerning 
the bearing-power and the distribution of stresses in masonry. 

By a gradual widening of the arch the simplest form of true vaults 
originated, namely, the cylindrical or barrel-vault, which is repeatedly met 
with in Greek masonry and still more in Roman triumphal arches. The 
heavy weight of barrel-vaults constructed of ashlar does not allow of great 
width. In order to create wide spans the arch-piers had to be very strong 
and massive, which not only made them look clumsy and out of proportion 
but occasioned great 
expense. A way out 
of the difficulty was 
furnished by the 
brickwork structure ; 
this made the vault- 
ing lighter and conse- 
quently allowed the 
supporting walls also 
to be made lighter. 

Brickwork also led to 
a greater freedom of 
design in vaultings in 
general ; cross-arched 
vaults and domed 
vaults came about, 
whose further de- 
velopment, however, 
demands attention 
more from an archi- 
tectural than from a 
be discussed here. 

It has been said before that vaults were usually constructed with the 
aid of a special scaffold, the spandrel bracketing or cradling. But whereas 
nowadays such cradlings are usually placed on the ground or on the 
foundation, the ancients, at any rate the Romans, apparently placed them 
on the masonry of the piers or other walls adjacent to the future vaults. 
Numerous offsets or projections found on the inside and the outside of 
the piers served as carriers and abutments for the cradlings used during 
the construction of the vaults. Examples of such ohsets are met with in 
the ruins of the ancient Roman bridge at Narni in Umbria, in the aque- 
duct called ‘ Pont du Card ’ near Nimes, and in many other buildings. If 
they are missing nowadays, the reason probably is that they were knocked 
off or chiselled away at a later period, Sometimes these offsets are seen 
only for a short distance inside the vault, the reason being that those 

Fig. 534.— Superposed Roman. Arches (imperial palace at 

technical point of view; they will therefore not 


394 • 

furtlier inside had been chiselled off, or the cradlings had been placed 
only partly on such offsets, and partly on the ground. But there is 
no doubt that in some cases the cradlings rested entirely on the 
ground, although they were more often supported on offsets. 


Concerning details of instruments used in building, particularly wind- 
lasses, blocks and pulleys and other apparatus of this kind, the reader 

Fig. 535. — Chorobates (reconstructed by Neuburger) 

is referred to the section on ‘ Technical Mechanics and Machines In 
order to make the list complete a number of special contrivances and 
implements will be discussed here which were utilized in the construc- 
tional work. Above all there is the group of levelling instruments which 

Fig. 536. — Tools of Roman Masons (from tombstones and doorplates) 
a, Plunimet (at the top) ; plunibline (on the left); compass (on the right at the top) ; set-square (on the right, 
below) ; I'uler (at the bottom), h. Plumbline, pliuninet, compass and ruler, c, Jointing-rule (on the right above) ; 
level, set-square, compass, chisel, hammer and calipers, (Deutsches Museum, Munich) 

served to determine the horizontal direction and were used in erecting 
houses as well as in laying out roads or constructing aqueducts. On 
the whole they were used in the same way as nowadays. The simplest 
of all ancient levelling instruments was the groma, which was the chief 



implement of the Roman surveyors. Remains of an ancient Ihnnan 
groma have been found at Pfunz, near Eichstiidt. It is identical with 
the cross described by Heron of Alexandria, which consisted of two arms 
placed at right angles in a horizontal plane. From the ends of the arms 
were suspended plummets. Heron draws attention to the errors caused 
by the arms of the instrument being placed otherwise than horizontally 
or by the winds. An advance on the groma is to be recognized in the choro- 
bates, which is described 
by Vitruvius in the follow- 
ing words (VIII, 5) : 

‘ The chorobates is a straight 
edge about twenty feet long. At 
the extremity it has legs made 
exactly alike and jointed on 
perpendiculars to the extrem- 
ities of the straight-edge, and 
also cross-pieces, fastened by 
tenons, connecting the straight- 
edge and the legs. These 
cross-pieces have vertical lines 
drawn upon them, and there 
are plumblines hanging from 
the straight-edge over each of 
the lines. When the straight- 
edge is in position, and the 
plumbiines strike both the alike and at the same 
tim^ they show that the in- 
stru' aent stands level. But if 
the wind interposes, and con- 
stant motion prevents any 
definite indication by the lines, 
then have a groove on the 
upper side, five feet long, one 
digit wide, and a digit and a 
half deep, and pour water into 
it. If the water comes up uni- 
formly to the rims of the groove 
it will be known that the instru- 
ment is level. When the level 
is thus found by means of the chorobates, the amount of fall will also be known. 

Fia- 537' — Mason smoothing the Plastering on a 
Wall (mural painting at Pompeii) 

The picture shows the st^affohiinKi the tool ami the way in which it 
was used, two vessnls and possibly the working clothes worn by masons 

(The last remark of Vitruvius is to be understood as a reference to 
the levelling of an aqueduct which he is describing.) The chorobates 
was thus nothing but a stool whose legs were connected with the seat 
by inclined struts (Fig. 535). The latter were provided with marks 
showing whether the plummets suspended from the edge of the board 
were vertical, in which case the surface of the levelling implement lay 
horizontal. Any deviations from the horizontal line could easily be 
ascertained. But the chorobates also allowed itself to be used as a water- 
level. From further remarks by Vitruvius, however, it is clear that the 
ordinary water-level, that is, a glass tube which is filled with water and 
contains an air-bubble, was also Imown and used as a levelling instrument. 

i'AK M:\| HI I )ri 
I > n-\V iHMix > 

1 ua 

i N \i KIV'l It.rjl'l-. 


There was yet another implement for sighting known to tiie ancients, 
namely the diopter, mentioned by Vitruvius and described by Heron of 
Alexandria. H. Schoene, with the help of an engineer, J. Neumann, has 
recently reconstructed it. Heron's diopter was a water-level, a well-known 
contrivance based on the principle of transmission of pressure in fluids 

by communicating vessels. 

It was however constructed 
in the form of a theodolite 
which allows a large or a 
small movement about a 
horizontal and a vertical 
axis. The diopter or 
dioptric rule was 6 ft. 2 in, 
long and was provided at 
both ends with an objective, 
an eye-piece and two 
pointers. For levelling 
purposes the dioptric rule 
was connected with a 
water-level. By means of 
this instrument and a 
system of rectangular co- 
ordinates, Heron mathe- 
matically solved the prob--, 
lem of 'piercing' a 
mountain with a stri ight 

tunnel when the two' en- - 

trances have been given.' 

I Confident of success, Heron 
also promised that the 
workers advancing from 
both ends would meet in 
the middle of the moun- 
tain. But the example of 
the aqueduct at Samos 
Fig. 538.— The Tools of a Mason (from a Roman (Fig. 572) shows that the 
chest) instruments were not 

Trowel, plan, b.level,cam^^ chisel Provindal sufficiently aCCUratC tO 

allow the promise to be 
fulfilled ; but it has not been proved that Eupalinos, the builder of 
the aqueduct, actually used the contrivance described by Heron. 

Other surveying instruments used by the ancient builders were the 
plummet and the set- square, both of. which very much resemble the modern 
tools that serve the same purpose. The same is true of the mason's 
tools. The tombstones and doorplates {insignia) of ancient masons 
show the rake, the trowel, the brush, the plummet, the calipers and many 
other implements, all of which are very much like those used by modern 
bricklayers (Figs. 536, 537 and 538). 



O F the building materials of the ancients wood was the most 
important in the earliest times — as is clear from the statements 
of the last section. Almost all the sorts of wood were used 
that are still employed nowadays. Convenience often determined the 
choice. For example, for producing frames, particularly in Roman 
times, fir-wood was apparently used only because it happened to be 
more easily accessible than oak, which had to be fetched from a greater 
distance. Further, nobler sorts of wood were used for superior buildings 
as well as for panelling. Apart from this there is nothing further of 
importance to be said about wood as a building material. Concerning 
the manner of felling and working the wood, details are given in an earlier 
section. The Romans were among the first to use for their building wood 
that was impregnated so as to be fireproof. Aulus Gellius (about 150 
A.D.) narrates in his Attic Nights, XV, ^ that when he was one day accom- 
panying the orator Antonius Julianus home together with other members 
of hi.s audience they passed a burning house. This led Julianus to refer 
in the course of conversation to the passage in the chronicles of Claudius 
Quadrigarius, in which Claudius relates that in the year ’86 B.c. Athens 
was hard-pressed by Sulla in the struggle with Mithridates. Archelaus, 
the commander of Mithridates, in order to protect the Piraeus had a 
wooden tower built which, in spite of all attempts of the Romans to 
light it, would not burn. Archelaus had made it fireproof by saturating 
. all the wood with alum {ita Archelaus omnem mater iam obleverat ahmine). 

The ancients also knew how to provide against dry-rot, which, as 
we now know, results from an infection of the wood. They never seem 
to have been clear about its being connected with the wooden parts of 
the structure. Measures for countering it are contained in Chapter 14 
of Leviticus. Since they are to be regarded as expedient, however, even 
from, the view of our present-day knowledge, and since they can refer 
only to dry-rot, we shall quote the passage in question here. If in the 
land of Canaan a house bore the sign of ‘leprosy ’, the priest had first 
to view the house. 

‘ And he shall look on the plague, and, behold, if the plagize be in the walls of 
tlic house with hollow strakes, greenish or. reddish, and the appearance thereof be 
lower than the wall ; then the priest shall go out of the to the door of the 
house, and shut up the house seven days : and the priest .shall come again the 
seventh day, and shall look : and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of 
the house ; then the priest shall comrnand that they take out the stones in which 

1 The .story proves nothing, for Roman use of this device, indeed the remarks 
of Julianus {ibid.) imply that it was not generally known. — Trans. 



lli(‘ ]il,!jj;uc ih and cast them into ah unclean place without the city ; and he shall 
cause the house to bt‘ seraptjd within round about, and they shall pour out the mortar 
that the}’ scrajx* of! without the city into an unclean place.' 


Slones formed the most im])ortant building material of antiquity-- 
they \ver(> first probably collected singly wherever found ; later, they 
were probtd)ly obtained from stone quarries in the manner described 
in tlie section t)n mining. The rule that material was in general collected 

Idea 53'). GijJiantic Stone which has been transported for building purpose.s 
{iTtiiii Ihr basi: of the Tcmplo of Juppitrr at Baalbfik) 

from whatever place in the vicinity it happened to occur, whereas definite 
sorts for particular purposes were fetched from greater distances, applies 
also to buildings of stone. For example, Tiryns was built from the 
limestone that occurs in its neighbourhood. In Rome there are stones 
from all parts of the Italifin peninsula, but the majority are from quarries 
situated near by. In other places again sandstone is used. Every- 
where the tendency to derive the stone from the nearest source is mani- 
fest. Ii^ven in ancient times the stones were burst apart and separated 
into smaller and larger ones by making lines of holes in them and placing 
wooden wedges into the holes ; these wedges were made to swell by 
having water poured on them. I)6rj)feld found such holes still in exist- 
ence in the. rocks at Tiryns. This primitive technique sufficed to break 
oi'f stone blocks 2 to 3 yards long, i to 2 yds. in thickness and i yd. 
wide, wliich were used for building the town walls. The weight of 
some of these massive bloc'ks amounts to nearly 20 tons. But they 
are by no means the largest produced by ancient craftsmen. The 
base of tlic temple of Juppiter at Baalbek contaijis stones of truly 
gigantic size. In the quarries situated in the vicinity shaped stones 

-The Tomb of Theocloric in Ravenna 


from the second century A. d. have been found; they are about 14 ft. 
wide, over 15 ft. in thickness, and no less than 23 yds. in length. Their 
weight amounts to nearly 1,000 tons (Figs. 539 and 540). 

It would seem almost impossible to explain how such stones were 
moved away and raised to their height in the buildings if we did not 

Fig. 540. — Shaped Stone in the Quarry of Baalbek 
Length 23 yds., -width i.v ft., thickness 15 ft., weight about 1,000 tons. 
After a photograph in the Deutsches Museum, Munich 

know that at that time the work was performed by vast numbers of 
workmen far in excess of those employed in modern industry, in which 
the tendency is to replace human labour by machine work. In .some 
cases huge blocks of stones of this kind were transsportecl over wide 
stretches of land. In Ravenna we still see the grave of Theodoric, 
which was probably built about a.d. 520. It is covered by an enormous 

cupola no less than 36 ft. in diameter (Fig. 541), made from a single 
stone. This stone was not extracted from the vicinity, but was pro- 
bably transported from Istria by water. Thus it appears to have 
travelled long distances, in spite of its stupendous weight, before it 
arrived at its destination, where it again required the labour of many 
men, as well as the use of high platform-like structures, to enable it 


FXG. 542. — ^'riie great Sea of Stone on the 
rocky mount of the Odenwald (gra-nite) 

to be drawn up to its present position. Pillars 36 ft. high produced 
from one block are to be found in the remains of the avenue of pillars 
of Palmyra, and so we find everywhere traces of an antique art of working 
stones which was undaunted by the most gigantic tasks. 

This art may be traced back to pre-history ; it made use of very 
simple tools. Besides being broken up by the insertion of wooden pegs 
in holes, as mentioned above, the stones were also split by means of 
knives or blades, which in the beginning were made of wood,, bone or 
horn. On account of their softness they were not sufficient to cut 
... through the stone unaided, since 

simply wore flat. For this 

Fig. 543. — Granite worked by the Romans 
at the 'Pyramid' in the Odenwald 

purpose moist sand was strewn between them and the .stone surface that 
was to be worked. Later on tools made of bronze were used, and, later 
again, tools made of hardened bronze, iron and steel. According to 
Flinders Petrie the ancient Egyptians were supposed to have used saw- 
blades whose edges were studded with jewels. There is no evidence of 
the use of such jewelled saws among the Romans, but there are indica- 
tions that in dealing with very hard stone, such as granite, not only sand, 
but also steel-sand, that is, a mixture of sand and steel-filings, was strewn 
under the teeth of the slightly curved saw-blades. 

We find evidence against the use of jewelled saws in the very 
narrow incision of half-finished stones that are still found ; they lead 
us to conclude that a narrow saw-blade was used. The application of 



ordinary sand is also mentioned by Vitruvius (II, 7, i) and Pliny (XXX VI, 
51), while the remarks of Vitruvius make it clear that saw-blades without 
teeth were used for hard stones, while toothed saws were used for soft 
<mes. Bliimner also points out that Pliny mentions the use of sand, 
the best variety being supposed to come from Ethiopia. Indian sand, 

as well as sand from Naxos and 

44. — The ' Altar-stone Front view 
Lateral holes for the insertion of wedges 

.5. — The Altar-stone. View from above 
Saw-cuts and wedge-incisions in granite 

Koptos, was too soft and therefore made the cutting much rougher. 

The saws were first manipulated by hand, and later saw-mills were 
used, which were driven by water-power. The Gallic-Roman poet 

j Decimus Magnus Ausonius (a.d. 

, f ' 310-396) in his poem ' Mosella 

Fig. 546. — Huge block of granite, worked. 
In the vast collection of stones in the 

547, — ‘ Giant Pillar ’ on tlie stone 
mountain in the Odenwald 
Roman work in granite 

verse 359, sings the praises of the saw-mills situated in the valley of 
the Ruiver, in which the stone slabs for the buildings of the Imperial 
city of Treves were cut out. ■ 

T.A.S.' — 26 


The slopes of the Odenwald, particularly the rocky hill about 1,700 ft, 
hig-h, give ns an exceptionally clear insight into the Roman art of working- 
stone. They are covered with fragments of rock, from which the Roman 
masons procured their building material for the towns of Oppenheim, 
Mannheim, Mainz, Treves, Wiesbaden and Aix-la-Chapelle. This 
source of stones was later deserted. The more or less completed stone 
slabs which we find lying around in these places to-day (Figs. 542-57) 
allow us to recognize important details in the ancient Roman method 
of working stone. The blocks are to be found in all stages of treatment. 
There is, for example, the ‘ Pyramid ’. which was split into three huge 
pieces by means of two horizontal rows of holes for the insertion of 
wedges. Then there is the ‘ Altar-stone from which two blocks have 
already been removed for pillars. From the technical point of view 

Fig. 548. — Egyptians worlfing in Stone. 

Usins; chisels and a stone, as a hammer. Smoothing with iwlishing stones and so forth 

this one is the most interesting of all. Its length varies from 3 to 5 
yards, its height is nearly 6 ft. Deep incisions cut with admirable 
accuracy by a saw indicate the intention of detaching still more blocks 
of 20 to 24 in, thickness. The saw-cuts were supplemented by holes 
into which wedges were inserted to split off the desired piece. 

In this process the surface of fracture itself assumed a somewhat 
curved form which could be used to advantage when greater curvature 
was required. The saw-blade used for this purpose must have had a 
length of at least 15 ft., and have produced cuts only one-sixth of an 
inch wide, that is, not wider than the most modern frame-saw. Many 
other granite blocks show signs of having been worked. 'I'he so-called 
‘ Giant Pillar ’ (Fig. 547), which lies at the higher end of the great 
multitude of stone on the way to the village of Reichenbach, is also very 
striking. Its length measures 30 ft., its thickness at the lower end 
5 ft. I in., and at the upper, 4 ft. i in. ; the volume is therefore well 
over 9 cubic yards and the weight about 15 tons. A second pillar, of 
nearly the same dimensions, but less finished, lies a short distance from 


it. In breaking off the pillars, the procedure consisted in marking the 
k'ligth of the pillar by means of deep incisions. Then a half of the pillar 
was worked to a state of completion. Along the sides of this half-column 
a dee]-) furrow was chiselled in the block and numerous wedge-holes were 
made in the furrow. After inserting and saturating the wedges with water 
the back part of the pillar broke off, in a convex shape, caused by the 
semicircular coui'se of the lines of pressure due to the swollen wedges. 
I'liis process was practised by the Egyptians and later by the Romans. 
As a rule the Greeks did not make their columns of monoliths but by 
.siiperi)osing blocks in the form of discs, a method also applied by the 
Romans in some cases (for example, the Juppiter Column in Mainz). 

When the blocks had been broken off and prepared in the manner 
described, the fine work was begun; that is, they were cut down to the 
right size, smoothed off and j)olished by exactly the same methods and 
with the same tools as we still use in general nowadays (Fig, 548), 


Bricks used in ancient times were in many cases only dried in the sun 
or slightly burned. As a rule only the glazed bricks show signs of having 
been more intensively burned. Their colour varies within wide limits 
according to the clay used ; almost all shades of colour occur from light 
yellow to dark red. All further details about their production are men- 
tioned in the section on ' Ceramics The brick of antiquity has either 
a square form or the shape of a long rectangle, resembling those we make 
nowadays. The size varies greatly. As the art of building in bricks 
attained to a high degree of perfection, particularly among the Romans, 
great attention was naturally also given to the preparation of the bricks. 
Vitruvius (II, 3) describes in detail the properties which a good brick 
should have and also the forms in which it is best prepared. Fie points 
out that clay used for making bricks should be neither sandy nor stony 
nor gritty. It should be capable of being kneaded easily. The best 
materials are white chalky clay, red earth, or ‘ male ’, i.e. very firm and 
hard, sand. The bricks made from them are light and at the same time 
solid. He recommends spring or autumn as the time for making bricks, 
for then the drying out takes place slowly and uniformly. Care must be 
taken that the outer layer does not dry up while the interior is still wet. 
A good brick should dry for two years. If undried bricks are used for 
building they contract in the wall and work themselves loose from the 
plaster, which falls off. In those days the people of Utica (near Car- 
thage) obtained official certification that their bricks had dried out for 
five years. Vitruvius knows of other kinds of bricks, of which one 
variety, the ‘ Lydian ', was particularly used in Rome. The other two 
forms were usual in Greece. Vitruvius further mentions bricks that 
float on water, because the earth out of which they were made was a 
variety of pumice-stone. 

The usual Roman brick is broader and flatter than ours and varies 


greatly in size. Its dimensions certainly do not keep within the limits 
of i8 in. length and I2 in. breadth given by Vitruvius. Most of the 
ancient Roman bricks are smaller. They are, however, more durable 
than the machine-made bricks of our day ; this is probably due to the 
fact that they were, made by hand, and another reason is the dexterity of 
the brick-moulder. As a rule Roman bricks carry a stamp, either the 
mark of the manufacturer or the number of the legion whose soldiers 
had produced the bricks (Fig. 194). As it was necessary to keep the 
Roman army occupied in times of peace, in order that idleness would 
not lead to revolts and revolutions, soldiers who were not lighting were 
made to mould bricks or build roads or perform other works. (Further 
details of making bricks are given under the heading * Ceramics ’.) 

Bcvsides freestone and bricks the ancients in isolated cases also used 
artificial stone and other artificial material. Such stones have been 
found in the ruins of ancient Babylon. According to the analysis carried 
out by Rathgen they consist of 94 per cent, of quartz and are cemented 
together by a mixture of quartz, lime and magnesia into a sort of ' magma '. 

A further artificial substance was also known to the ancients which 
corresponds to our modern concrete or beton. It was especially used 
by the Romans. The basic substance for its production was the poz- 
zoiana which occurs at Riteoli ^ in the bay of Naples ; it is a volcanic clay 
consisting of clay and gravel, which, with the addition of burnt lime, 
could resist the action of water. For building in water, it was custom- 
ary to mix two parts by weight of jiozzolana with one part of ordinary > 
mortar. The actual building was carried out by a process resembling ■ 
that in use nowadays ; namely, the l.)eton-mass (to which in some circum- | 
stances sand and chips of stone were added) was poured or stamped I 
under moulds made of boards and there allowed to harden. Such beton i 
was used for making conduit-pipes, parts of aqueducts, harbour works and I 
so forth. The concrete or beton was used both in the form of ballast • I 
and in the form of hardened blocks which could be joined together. In I 

the reign of Caligula a mole was built at Naples from such blocks. | 

In the case of vaults made from freestone, concrete was used instead E 

of pure mortar as a cement. It was poured into the gaps left in between f 

the stones. 1 


The mortars and other cements used in antiquity were of very 
tliverse kinds. Herodotus knew of two methods that were used even 
by the old Babylonians to hold together stones in buildings. The | 
first (11, 186) has already been mentioned several times and represents 
the method of forming junctions by means of iron and lead described 
in detail on page 386 ; the other (II, 179) consists of hot bitumen, that is, 
of asphalt. I'he excavations of Layard at the ruins of Nineveh and 
Babylon prove that the stones joined by asphalt have remained fixed 
together through thousands of years. This strong connection is due 
to the asphalt, having been applied hot to the stones, penetrating into 
^ Now called Pozzuoli, 


tlu'in and so j)iovidmg protectiou from weather iullueiices, llie aspliall 
used by the Babylonians was derived from the oil-wells on the Is, a 
tribiitai-y of tlie Euphrates. The more easily volatile constituents of 
the crude petroleum were allowed to vapourize so that the bitumen used 
in Babylonian buildings remained as a residue. The use cf asphalt 
in Babylonian structures was known to the Romans ; it is described, 
for example, by Pliny (XXXV, 178). Vitnivius (VIII, 3, 8) also describes 
asphalt and Pliny mentions it in another passage (V, 72). But in spite 
of this knowledge the Romans no longer used it as a cement. 

On the other hand, it was still used in isolated instances by the Eg57p- 
tians, who, how^ever, for the great majority of their buildings, used the 
two principal cements of antiquity, gypsum and lime, as well as mixtures 
of both. As is clear from the discusiiion of the Egyptian drain-con- 
structions (p. 439) a cement was used for fixing in the. drain pipe ; it 
consisted of 45-54 per cent, of gypsum and 41-36 per cent, of carbonate 
of lime, and contained, besides, 13-10 per cent, of insoluble components, 
mostly sharp-edged transparent particles of quartz and particles of 
siliceous substances. Lucas, on the basis of his analyses, has raised the 
question whether the ancient Egyptians were acquainted with a lime- 
cement mixed with sand, or whether they used only gypsum-mortar 
which contained lime carbonate as an impurity to varying degrees. 
Analyses of the gypsums obtained nowadays in Heiwan favour the second 
suggestion, which receives further support from the fact that gypsum 
and lime regularly occur together in Egypt. 

Other analyses of samples of mortars are available, which were taken 
some decades ago by Lepsius from the pyramids of Khofra (Chefren). 
Rathgen makes the following statements about these analyses, which he 
supplements with deductions of his own. 

‘ Mortar from the pyramid of Khofra, index No. 1334. Gypsum mortar con- 
taining little lime, pieces of crystalline gypsum often i cm. long, and a few quartz 
particles mostly rounded off, 

‘ Mortar from the pyramid of Khofra, index No. 1334. Lime mortar with many 
pieces of limestone and with very few .sharp-edged particles of quartz and isolated 
fragments of crystalline gypsum. 

‘ Mortar from the pyramid of Khofra, index No. 1342. Mixture of gypsum- and 
lime-mortar with pieces of crystalline gypsum and small amounts of particles of 
limestone and of quartz, mostly rounded off. The composition of this mortar from 
the pyramid of Khofra is quite similar to that of the mortar from the drain of the 
mortuary temple of Sahura (see page 440) and of the mortar from the Sphinx ’ (se*e 
page 346). 

In the light of all this we may say that the Ancient Egyptians in 
general used gypsum as a mortar, of which the content of lime carbonate, 
when derived from quicklime, was mostly accidental, but that the use 
of gypsum containing lime may have caused them often to add further 
lime purposely to the gypsum before burning, and that under certain 
circumstances they even burned limestone alone. As a thinning agent 
they used small fragments of imburned gypsum and pieces of limestone, 
mostly probably in the form of grit from their workshops, which explains 
the small and varying amount of insoluble matter contained in the mortar. 


The composUion ol Greek mortars is also known to us from analyses 
which show us tliat liuie-mortars were chiefly used. For example, the 
stones of the orators’ tribune built about 400 b.c. on the Pnyx, the 
meeting-place of the Athenian Assembly, were cemented together with a 
lime-mortar to which sand had been added. According to analysis this 
lime- mpflar consisted of : 

cent, burnt lime, 

"7 P® acid, 

12-0 per cenff^Sii^^, 

and confined eidmixtures of magne^lSi^luminiiim acetate and iron 
oxide which came from the lime and sand *^d. In the course of time 
the sand content of the mortar continually m^ased (see, for example, 
the prescriptions of Vitruvius below). Partifetflarly noteworthy are 
Rathgen’s researches on mortar from ancient Perg®qon ; this incident- 
ally proves that the mortar is about 1,700 years old?V3|Le peculiarity 
of this mortar is that as a thinning agency for the. lime thm^^^s added, 
besides the usual substances so used, that is, sand and gravel, ms^kshells 
of mussels, a species of miirex. As these shells also consisted of lime, the 
question naturally arises whether the basic substance of the mortar, theA 
burnt lime, was not also obtained by burning these shells, or whether it \ 
was obtained in the usual way by burning lime. Since the shells also \ 
contained phosphoric acid, only its presence in the mortar could prove 1 
the assumption that shells were used. Analysis disclosed that the mortar 
contained some phosphoric acid, but to a .somewhat higher percentage 
than the shells. This of pho.sphoric acid can be explained only 
by assuming that it is derived from the bodies of living mussels. From 
these results we may therefore infer that the lime for making the Per- 
gamene mortar was obtained by collecting and burning the shells of 
mussels, among them being some which still contained the living or dead . 
bodies. To the burnt lime there were added as thinning agents, besides . 
sand and gravel, further shells from shell-fish which again partly con- 
tained the animal bodies. The phosphoric acid contained in these bodies 
then likewise became mixed with the mortar so that its percentage of phos- 
phoric acid was greater than that of the shells used in its production. 

Roman mortars were similarly lime-mortars in the main. Concern- 
ing their production Vitruvius (II, 51) states thad good lime should be 
made by burning white building-stone or flint. That made from dense 
and hard .stone was advantageous for the brickwork, that made from 
porous stone was better for the outer coating or plaster. The mixture 
of lime with sand was to be in the ratio of three parts of sand to one of 
lime in the case of pit-sand, whereas in that of river- or sea-sand a third 
part of powdered and sifted shells was to be added, and the proportion of 
sand and lime to be as two to one. 

'I'he burning of the lime took place in limekilns, which, according 
to Cato {de agri cult. XXXVTII, i), were to be underground in pits 
specially dug, to exclude the wind. If the hollow' could not be made 
deep enough (the kiln was to be 20 (Roman) ft. high, 10 ft. wdde at the 
bottom, and. 3 ft. at the top ; i Roman foot =--- ii|. in.), a border of bricks 


or ashlar was placed on top, which was pointed with ciay. One 
or two iirc-holes could be made. We are here again dealing with a 
type of oven still extant in distant regions which once stood under Roman 
rule or in neighbouring parts. They have remained preserved in a 

Fig, 551 

Figs. 549-551.— Lime-kiln in the Val di Gardena (Fig. 549, from the front; Fig. 550, 
from the side; Fig. 551, from above) 

The limekiln (see Fig. 551), built into the foot of a hill, consists of rough stones arranged in layers to a small height. 
It is filled with wood or wood-charcoal, and then ignited. Flames come out at the top. After being fired, the burnt 
lime is removed through the front aperture 

particularly typical form, for example, in the Val di Gardena, where we 
encounter besides the language many other relics of ancient Roman 
civilization (Figs. 549-551). 

The slaking of the lime, that is, the mixing of the mortar, took place 
in special pits with the help of a kind of rake {ascia) which resembled 


that still used nowadays. To apply it a trowel was used, likewise 
resembling the modern form. (See the Figs, on pp. 395 and 396). 

Besides lime-mortar the Romans also used hydraulic mortars or 
cements, that is, mortars that harden under winter. Their most import- 
ant hydraulic mortar was the pozzolana, already mentioned above 
(p. 404). But they were also acquainted with Babylonian cement from 
the idain stretching out west of the Euphrates ; the Babylonians had 
early used this cement with an admixture of ashes for building their 
wells. But in other parts of the world, too, builders had an expert eye 
for discerning the kinds of stone from which hydraulic mortar could be 
produced. Stone of this sort they found, for example, in the trasses of 
the Kifel, the Moselle, the Nette and the Brohl valleys, as well as in the 
Kies district near Nordlingen. The trasses of the Eifel played an 
I important part in the magnificent waterworks of Cologne built in the 

I reigns of the (miperors Trajan (A.d. 98-117) and Hadrian (a.d. 117-138) ; 

f they ended where the Cologne Cathedral now stands, and served to 

supply various Roman fortifications with water besides Cologne (Co/rnwa 
Agrippinends), The mortar of this Roman canal is of a wonderful 
liardness and rigidity. As proved by blasting operations it is even harder 
than the natural rock. This rigidity has given rise to all sorts of foolish 
ideas, such as, for example, that the Romans had special secrets about 
making mortar, and that they used white sugar, wine, common salt and 
like substances as additional ingredients ! Recently, numerous analyses 
of the mortar from the Eifel canal of the l-iomanshave been carried out by \ 
the Prussian Testing Department for Materuds {Materialprufungsamt), by \ 
Liittgen, Hambloch, Kiepenheuer, and others. 'Phe trass was prepared I 
for the production of mortar by simply grinding the tufa from the Eifel. J' 
At other points of the long aqueduct, which were too far for trans- 
, porting the trass, a calcareous marl was used for preparing the hydraulic 

I mortar ; this marl contained silicon dioxide and argillaceous earth as 

^ water-resisting constituents, which entered into combination with lime- 

stone, forming a compound which, like the trass, hardened in water. 
'I'he hydraulic mortar obtained from lime-marl, the so-called ' water- 
lime of the Eifel ', was produced by mixing one part of this water-lime 
with 3 to 4^ parts of coarse sand. The red outer coating consists of water- 
lime from the Eifel with brick-dust and fragments of brick admixed. 

> It was applied to a thickness varying from A to n, of an inch. 

I In general tlie Romans seem not to have used gypsum as a mortar. 


L ike the animals, so also Man had once upon a time to set out in 
quest of water to satisfy his thirst. Streams, lakes and springs 
were at his disposal. They have the common failing, however, of 
drying up at times. This gave rise to the mOvSt primitive method of water- 
supply, scraping to reach the precious moisture that had filtered away. 
Haberlandt has proved that the digging up of sand represents a 
method still practised nowadays by the aboriginals of Australia for 
obtaining water artificially. By a development of these ‘ soakages ’ in 
the sub-soil of dried-up beds of rivers the wells dug out of sand or soft 
stone arose. In soil particularly poor in its water-content there is a 
further technical development, according to Haberlandt \s researches in 
Australia ; it is the suction-tube, which, however, occurs here in a very 
simple form : a hole is made by driving a spear deep into the ground, a 
chimp of dried grass is inserted into the hole to serve as a protective 
covering, through the middle of which a hollow^ reed is thrust ; the 
water is then sucked up through this reed. As Haberlandt has proved 
that similar devices are in use among the Hottentots and the Bushmen 
of South Africa, and also among the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego, 
and since according to a generally accepted theory the stages of develop- 
ment of mankind in its first beginnings resemble those of the present-day 
primitive races, we may also assume that in the case of water-supply, soak- 
holes were followed by wells, and that suction-pipes w^ere a still later 


In proportion as settlement increased the demands for improved 
methods of water-supply became more pressing. The importance 
of water was recognized and efforts were made to conduct it to settle- 
ments by means of special constructions in cases where great natural 
sources were not at hand. So the first aqueducts arose, which consisted 
of artificially constructed trenches, more or less inclined ; these were 
at first uncovered at the top and conducted the water to the desired spot. 
Water was then simply scooped out as required. To facilitate this, 
special basins were made in the watercourse. 

An ancient aqueduct of this kind, consisting of a trench with scooping 
basins, was discovered by Layard in his researches in ancient Ass5n'ia ; 
it is situated in a gorge at Bavian. Layard writes : ' Higher up in 
the gorge I also had the earth removed and I found a row of water- 
basins hewn out of the rock, which led in steps down to the river. 


The water had originally been conducted from one basin to the next 
by little gutters; at the mouth of the lowest basin two lions rampant 
in relief had been erected as ornaments (Fig. 552). We cleaned out 
the choked gutters, poured water into the uppermost basin, and so 
restored the water-service to what it had been in the time of the Ass}/- 
rians.’ Water was also supplied to Nineveh by means of open canals, 
whicli lirst collected the water from many places, and then conducted 
it to the town, where they again branched off along the different streets. 
A])parently no indisputable relics of this constniction have been e.stab- 
lished, but an inscription concerning 
them which is contained in one of 
the rock-pictures at Bavian, and has 
been translated by Hincks, gives us 
some information about them. It 
states that these waterworks were 
constructed by Sennacherib, that is, 
about the turn of the eighth and 
seventh centuries b. c, ‘ From eighteen 
districts or villages’, it says, ‘he led 
eighteen canals to the Ussur or 
Khusur, in which he collected their 
water. He also dug a canal from the 
boundaries of the town or of the 
divStrict of Kisri as far as Nineveh, 
conducted the water through it and 
called it the canal of Sennacherib.’ We frequently find similar con- 
structions in the ancient East. How extensive these trench-systems were 
commonly made is related by Herodotus ( 11 , 188 et seq), who says that 
Cyrus, during his march to Babylon, had three hundred and sixty trenches 
dug out leading from the River Gyndes, in order, so it is alleged, to revenge 
himself on this stream which had swept away his horse. The rest of 
Herodotus’ description, however, makes it clear that Cyrus was o]ily 
waiting for the more favourable season in order to advance on Babylon 
and that he probably had a water-system constructed there for his army, 
which was encamped in that neighbourhood for nearly a year, according 
to the same account. Further, an old relief in the British Museum 
derived from the Palace of Kujundschik^ shows us how the water is distri- 
buted through these, trenches. It appears that this water-system served 
to supply the needs of the palace, and after its passage was used 
to water the gardens. The side-canals branch off at a fairly acute angle 
from the main canal. 

The trenches were not always dug out of the ground but were also 
cut out of rock, as, for example, in the case of the River Zab and its 
tributary Ghazit. The canal is 28 miles long and 44 ft. deep in places, 
and has been hewn out of hard shell-limestone. Sometimes channels 
were built up with masonry. One of these is to be found at Damascus. 
It cannot, however, be stated with certainty that it belongs to antiquity. 
In view of the high degree of perfection attained in ceramics in Mesopo- 
^Also wx'itten Kuyunyik. 

Fig. 552. -- Lowest Water-bnsin of the 
ancient Assyrian aqueduct in the gorj'c 
at Bavian 


tainia (see the section on Ceramics) it is rather surprising that clay- 
]upes have not been found more often as water-pipes. But , as pcjinted <jut 
l)y Merckel, in ivsolated instances, for example, at Senjiiii, such tubes 
hav(‘ been found having a length of 12 in., diameter of 4^ in., and 
a wall in. thick. On tlie one side they had a rabbet, on the other a 
cusp 2 in. long which had been thrust i